To some it may sound like greed, but Fredy Montero simply wants more.
He’s happy that the Sounders have won two consecutive Lamar Hunt US Open Cup titles and have reached the playoffs with record-breaking attendance figures. He’s happy that the fans have embraced him and his family in the Seattle community.
He is glad to be the top scorer in both seasons for the Sounders FC, too.
It’s just not enough.
“My last two years were very good, but we need the MLS Cup. That’s been the goal since day one and we’ve been training with that in mind,” Montero said from training camp in Casa Grande, Arizona. “We know there are a lot of teams training for that, but we have a really good team. It’s different. I’m hungrier to win a championship and be the leading goal-scorer in the league.”
In 2011, he’s poised to do it.
Playing under a new contract extension that gives him the Designated Player label, Montero has planted roots in Seattle, bringing his family with him to share in the experience and help grow soccer in the area.
“He’s embraced the culture and the city and Fredy’s a bright kid - he learned English fairly quickly,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s definitely done a lot of things off the field to put himself within the frame of Seattle.”
He’s also done a lot on the field to win over the Seattle faithful. He scored the opening goal in club history, prompting the Emerald City Supporters to sing “Roll On Columbia” - a local song about the Columbia River that has taken a new meaning in the context of the Colombian dynamo - in the 12th minute of every match in honor of the minute that he scored.
In two seasons, he’s totaled 22 goals and 17 assists, both team-leading numbers. He was named MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2009 and was a consideration for league MVP late in the season.
On several occasions, he’s displayed a unique creativity that may occasionally drive coaches mad. But when he’s successful, it’s the opponents who are driven to the brinks.
“Fredy’s a special player,” Schmid said. “He has the ability to make plays and make things happen. That creativity is something that you always want him to have, even though it can be frustrating because he’s trying something where the guy next to him wants it to be simpler. I’ve always thought that you have to let special players have special moments because he can change games by making plays that other guys can’t make.”
Montero isn’t the only one who can lead the Sounders to glory though and he’s the first to admit that.
After two seasons and 87 matches, the players are rapidly learning more about each other and how their talents complement each other. That, Montero says, will help the team reach their goals in their third season.
“We know that Zakuani is fast and he likes to get the ball and go 1v1 with his defender. We know Alvaro likes to touch-pass and go 1v2. We know Alonso likes to come in behind the forwards,” Montero said. “We are growing up as a team and if you have Zakuani, Alonso, Erik Friberg, Alvaro, Brad Evans - other teams don’t know what they are going to do because they don’t play the same all the time.”
In 2011, he’ll have a bevy of strike partners too. Blaise Nkufo scored five goals in a three-game stretch near the end of 2010. O’Brian White was a Hermann Trophy winner in 2007 and has shown he’s poised to reach that potential after two frustrating years with Toronto FC. Nate Jaqua scored six goals in Open Cup and Champions League play in 2010 after a career-best season in league play in 2009. And Mike Fucito has shown the ability to score at every opportunity he’s been given.
All things point to an improved Sounders club. One that just may surpass the great achievements of their first two seasons.
“Every season you want more than the last season. We have two US Open Cup championships, but we need the MLS Cup championship. We need to go further in the CONCACAF Champions League. We need to defend the US Open Cup,” Montero said. “We need more.”