By the time Miguel Montaño got on the field for the Sounders FC on Saturday, they were already three goals down to the defending Western Conference champion Los Angeles Galaxy. In the end, the team’s performance in what ended up being a 4-0 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 36,273 fans prompted owner/GM Adrian Hanauer to announce Sunday that season ticket holders would get what amounts to a refund for the match.
However, Montaño’s performance in his 33 minutes was still drawing praise as the lone bright spot in an otherwise dreary afternoon at Qwest Field.
When asked for a positive to be taken from what he called a shellacking, Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid pointed to the effort of Montaño.
“He played with energy. When you play with energy you can make some things happen,” Schmid said. “He was close, he was on the cusp. For him in his first time out there, I’m sure nerves played a factor. He was probably one of our only positive things out there.”
The 18-year-old Colombian subbed on for his country-mate Fredy Montero in the 57th minute, just after the Galaxy sprung out to a 3-0 lead on Landon Donovan’s third assist of the match.
It wasn’t the ideal time to make his Major League Soccer debut, but Montano made the most of it.
In the 64th minute, he was tackled against the left sideline, drawing a yellow card on LA’s Tristan Bowan. After he hit the turf, Montaño sprung to his feet chased down the ball and set up for the next play.
Later, he waved his arms and shouted at his teammates. “Vamos, vamos! Let’s go! Let’s go!” he shouted.
“I knew that we were down, but I entered with a lot of enthusiasm. We needed a goal so it was attack, attack, attack. I was doing my best to do that,” Montaño said after the match. “Now we know we need to do it better. We need the win and we are going to fight for that.”
Despite the harrowing defeat, he was walking on air after the match - much like he was after his first training session with the Sounders FC on March 17. However, he knows that he can’t rest on his laurels from a strong performance in his debut.
“It’s not just about today’s game,” he said. “I know that I have to keep working day by day to earn my position, so I’m going to keep working in that direction.”
He had only officially joined the team a week and a half earlier, as his paperwork took an extended time to process, and his time with the team previously had been limited to training sessions. Still, he is right there with his teammates in training, sweating through the tougher sessions and laughing with his teammates when the day ends.
After idolizing Montero while he played for Deportivo Cali in Colombia, Montaño sought out his elder (at 22 years old) teammate for advice before he stepped on the field at Qwest for his first league match.
“He gave me a lot of coaching - he told me to go into the field with a lot of personality. He said I did that after the game,” Montaño said. “I would have hoped to play with him some minutes during the game, but this wasn’t the chance to do it. Hopefully in another opportunity we’ll have the chance to play together for a while.”
For now, though, he has a lot to build on from his first playing time. 33 minutes. 1 shot. Not much on the surface. The big picture shows a much more luminescent performance.
“I think the only bright spot today was Miguel,” Steve Zakuani said. “He did good in his debut. Young, energy - it was good to see.”
For his part, Montaño still has his eyes on the team’s goals above his own.
“I tried to do my best. The result didn’t come for us, but I hope next time we will do better,” he said. “That was disappointing for me.”
That next chance could some as soon as Saturday when the Sounders travel to Red Bull Arena to face the New York Red Bulls.