If there is one thing Fredy Montero has shown in his time with the Sounders FC, it is that you cannot blink when he has the ball at his feet.
He has shown an affinity toward striking like a cobra, seizing opportunities when the opposition – and sometimes the fans – least expects it.
On Wednesday night when he scored his first goal of the 2012 season, it was just such a strike.
After already being stonewalled by LA Galaxy goalkeeper Bill Gaudette on two separate occasions in the first half, Montero took the ball at midfield made something out of nothing, unleashing a magical shot from 35 yards out that danced its way into the net to give Seattle a 2-0 second-half lead.
“He chose a difficult one rather than an easy one,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “But that’s probably a ‘Goal of the Week’ winner, if not a candidate for sure, but I think a winner.”
It had been a long-time coming for Montero. Scoreless through Seattle’s first six matches, the 24-year-old Colombian was hardly without opportunities. Entering the match on Wednesday, he had 30 shots to rank among the league-leaders despite playing fewer games than most of the competition. After putting ten of those shots on goal from various depths, Montero finally put one away, though he was hardly deterred by his early drought.
“The only thing I was thinking about was giving my best to the team and to do what the coaches were looking for me to do,” he said. “Finally I scored a very good goal and I’m happy about that.”
While the goal brought the crowd of 39,002 at CenturyLink Field to a frenzy, it also drew the praise of his teammates – particularly his newest strike partner, Eddie Johnson, who was the first one by Montero’s side to celebrate the goal.
“For me, I was very happy to see him score and I wanted to be the first one to go over and celebrate with him,” said Johnson, who scored the game’s other goal, his second of the season, in the first half. “He’s put himself in some good positions on the field, he’s been unlucky in a few games. Special players score goals like he did today, and it says a lot about his ability.”
Although he hadn’t scored yet, his play through the first six games was a large reason why the Sounders were 4-1-1 before topping the Galaxy.
In that time, Montero has been a more complete player. He pulled himself deeper into the midfield to play a more creative, play-making role in the absence of Mauro Rosales. He tracked back to defend with a vigor beyond what he had shown in prior years. And he gave the opposition fits when he got himself into dangerous scoring positions, though he hadn’t been able to yet convert.
“This is soccer. When you can’t score, you have to do something else,” he said. “Giving my best to the team was the only thing I’ve been thinking about. Today was great because I scored a goal, but that’s the only thing that changed tonight.”
The Sounders will play three matches in eight days to close out their stretch of five games in 15 days beginning on Saturday in a nationally televised match against the Philadelphia Union.
It is unclear how much Montero will play of those three matches, but he is ready to go if he’s asked to play on Saturday.
“I’m always ready. Let’s see what happens,” Montero said. “If I have the opportunity to play, I will do my best.”