Colombia media impressed by MLS atmosphere, level of play

MLS and Sounders FC hosted four top Colombia journalists during last weekend's Cascadia derby with the Portland Timbers with the goal of promoting the MLS environment and level of play to those unfamiliar with the league.

This week, top players from around the world were called in to their respective national teams for 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. 

The Sounders FC will have players representing the US (Eddie Johnson), Sweden (Adam Johansson) and Honduras (Mario Martinez), but one player noticeably absent from that list is the club’s all-time leading scorer, Fredy Montero.

The 25-year-old Colombian came to the Sounders before the 2009 season and was a quick success, scoring three goals in their first two matches on his way to 12 goals and seven assists, earning MLS Newcomer of the Year honors.  In that time, he got one call-up to the Colombian side for a friendly in August of that year. Since then, he hasn’t been called up despite totaling 47 goals and 32 assists in MLS play for the Sounders.

Recently, Philadelphia defender Carlos Valdez has received attention from the national team, but the league is hopeful that more call-ups will follow for MLS players, so they invited four prominent Colombian journalists to Seattle to take in Sunday’s match between the Sounders FC and Portland Timbers to put to rest any preconceived notions about the league and its level of play.

“We are hosting four top Colombian journalists and the idea is borne from a trip to Colombia that we took to promote the league,” said MLS spokesperson Gabe Gabor.  “The goal is to expose the media to that environment and have them go back and talk to their listeners, viewers and readers about what soccer is like in this country.”

The match gave the journalists a chance to see the tremendous atmosphere at CenturyLink Field and showcased the talents of Montero, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Portland’s Diego Chara.

“I think we don’t know the reality of MLS because the people think that MLS is a low level.  When I came, I wanted to find out if it was or wasn’t.  I visited the stadium and the atmosphere is really impressive.  The level is different from what they know in Colombia,” said sports and news anchor Andrea Guerrero of RCN, one of the top national television networks in Colombia.

Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid in Spain and Jackson Martinez of Porto in Portugal currently man the forward positions for Colombia under coach Jose Pekerman.  Still Guerrero and her counterparts that joined on the trip aren’t necessarily convinced that Montero shouldn’t still get an opportunity to show his meddle with Colombia.

“In Colombia, the people know that Fredy is a great soccer player,” she said.  “We think he should play for the national team, but people think the level isn’t the same that Falcao and Jackson are seeing in Europe.”

Montero was glad for the opportunity to play with Colombian media on hand, noting the exposure he and the league will get with the media in town to cover the match.

“The league is showing them that MLS is not what they think.  MLS is growing really fast.  They are going to see how good MLS is doing now,” Montero said before the match.

He went on to score his 13th goal of the season in a 3-0 win over Portland.

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