When the Sounders FC looks back on many of the great accomplishments of the club’s first four years, Fredy Montero is often seen at the center.
First goal in club history? It was Fredy Montero against the New York Red Bulls in the inaugural match.
First goal in the US Open Cup final? Again, Fredy Montero, putting the Sounders up 1-0 in a 2-1 win over DC United to win their first trophy in 2009.
First goal of CONCACAF Champions League play? Of course, Fredy Montero, stepping onto the field in the 60th minute and scoring with his first touch against Isidro Metapan in the preliminary round in 2010.
He had many other fantastic highlights along the way.
After four years, though, the Sounders will need to look elsewhere for their heroics, as the club announced that they would loan out Montero to Millonarios in Bogota, Colombia, in a one-year agreement.
Montero finished the 2012 season second on the team with 13 goals – a career high – while also contributing eight assists.
His 47 goals and 34 assists in 119 career MLS matches are each all-time best marks for the Sounders FC. Since 2009, only Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Wondolowski have scored more goals than Montero. He has 60 goals and 43 assists in 160 career matches for Seattle across all competitions.
He made his presence felt most in Cascadia Cup clashes, where he earned the moniker “King of Cascadia” by totaling eight goals in 10 matches against the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The two-time MLS All-Star was the 2009 MLS Newcomer of the Year after coming to the Sounders from Deportivo Cali in Colombia. The loan will put Montero in Colombia in time to play in the Copa Libertadores with Millonarios, a key showcase for his talents on the international level.
“For him to be able to jump on the World Cup train for 2014, he needs to get an opportunity again with the Colombian National Team. In the time playing for us, that wasn’t happening,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It was considered a good opportunity for him to showcase himself for the national team.”
The move opens up a Designated Player slot for the Sounders and while they are losing their all-time leading scorer, the 2012 season brought several bright spots on the offensive side.
Primary among those was Eddie Johnson setting a franchise record with 14 goals in his first season back in MLS. On the wings, Mauro Rosales matched his franchise record with 13 assists, Mario Martinez showed promise and Steve Zakuani looked as good as ever in the final match against the LA Galaxy. Getting Zakuani back to the form of 2010 when he notched 10 goals and was a threat to do even more in 2011 will prove important in replacing what was lost with Montero’s departure.
“Fredy’s been a very important player to this team. So we have to see what we can do, in terms of replacing him,” Schmid said. “We’re still looking at player options and I think we have some options within our squad.”
In addition to those stars, David Estrada proved to be a solid contributor at forward, scoring five goals, including a hat trick on opening night against Toronto FC. Meanwhile, Sammy Ochoa scored three goals in the US Open Cup and four in the CONCACAF Champions League. Translating that into MLS play will make him a solid option as well.
Add to that the play of Brad Evans and Christian Tiffert and the growing scoring role of Osvaldo Alonso in the midfield and the Sounders have plenty of capable options.
Those are solid building blocks to soften the blow of losing a player that has etched his name into the club’s lore with his crowning moments, both stunning and historical.