Tuesday night is a big night for Sounders FC as it continues its pursuit of an MLS-record tying fourth U.S. Open Cup title with a fifth-round match against the San Jose Earthquakes. And though he won’t be on the field, it’s a big night for Fredy Montero too.
The former Sounders forward and club’s all-time leading scorer will be at the match as a spectator while on off-season vacation from Sporting Lisbon. It will be his first time seeing his old club play as a fan since he left on loan to Millonarios in Colombia and then Sporting Lisbon in Portugal in 2013.
“It’s a big opportunity for me. I’m leaving next week, so this is the only game that I can go,” Montero said from Starfire on Monday, where he took in a Sounders training session from the sidelines alongside several staff members. “It’s my second home and I’m always happy to come here. I feel like I had to say ‘Hi’ to my old teammates too.”
Montero is in the middle of a two-week stay in the Seattle area along with his wife and daughter after already visiting family in Colombia.
Coming off of a standout first season with Sporting that saw him score 13 goals – including a hat trick in his first appearance – to lead the team in scoring. His scoring prowess helped Sporting finish second in the league and qualify for UEFA Champions League, where it will enter in the Group Stage in mid-September.
That opportunity is what Montero dreamed of when he came to MLS in 2009 to join the fledgling Sounders club in its inaugural season.
“I remember sitting at lunch and we watched those games and now I’m going to be playing that competition that I always wanted to play,” Montero said. “I am always going to thank the Seattle Sounders because they gave me the foundation that I needed to endure everything in a professional career in Europe. I’m always thankful to the team and the fans that helped me feel like I was at home every time I was playing a game.”
Having Montero at training was a happy moment for the remaining players who were here while he was with the team, although that number dwindles with each passing year. Most of the staff still remains though, dating back even to his first training session with the team at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in January of 2009.
“It was good for Fredy to stop by. Fredy’s a big part of the history of this club and it’s always good to see him around,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “He looks good. He looks fit. He’s happy. His family’s good. All of those things are really nice to catch up with people.”
Montero looks forward to the opportunity to see his old teammates play on Tuesday night at Starfire, but also wants to see the faithful fans that treated him so well in his four seasons wearing the badge.
“It is always fun to watch them because they bring the players a lot of energy,” he said. “The support is always there. It’s good to be back and feel that energy. I’m not going to be playing, but that’s going to bring me a lot of memories.”
“I still have friends here and I’m always looking back because I care about them. I am happy for them. They are getting victories.”
Just 26 years old, Montero already has plans to play for Sounders FC again before his career comes to an end. While he has the lofty task at hand of helping navigate Sporting Lisbon through UEFA Champions League and some of the other challenges he wants to pursue in Europe, the draw of Seattle will one day bring him back to CenturyLink Field, he hopes.
“There is no doubt about that,” Montero smiled. “I always dream of coming back to play with the Sounders.”