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Montero to keep ties with Seattle while in Europe

The Colombian forward enjoyed a successful four-year spell with the Sounders and is no off to Europe to play in Portugal.

From early in the process of building the Sounders FC roster, Fredy Montero was earmarked as a pivotal piece for the club as it embarked on its inaugural season.

Over the four years he played in Rave Green, he was Seattle’s offensive juggernaut. An assassin with the ball at his feet, Montero scored 47 goals and 34 assists in 119 MLS matches – both all-time highs for a team that reached the playoffs in each of their first four seasons.

At the start of the 2013 season, he was loaned to Millonarios in Colombia and on Monday, his journey through the stratosphere of world soccer continued when Sounders FC announced a loan to Sporting CP in Portugal, taking his goal-scoring prowess to Europe for the next test.

“That’s my dream coming true,” Montero said in a visit to Sounders FC training two weeks ago. “I have been waiting for this opportunity and it’s here now.”

On a brief stop in Seattle this month, Montero met with his old Sounders FC teammates and tied up loose ends in the states before his move to Portugal was finalized. It was something of a trip down memory lane and an opportunity to reminisce about his time with the club that raised him from the time that he was 21. But the interest between Montero and Sounders FC started much sooner and that’s what makes his move to Europe bittersweet.

“From early in 2008 we went down to Colombia so many times and met with him and watched him,” Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson said. “We all have a really good relationship and it’s good when you can see players have a chance to fulfill their dreams.”

Montero looks back on his time in Seattle with fondness.

He came to the club as a 21-year-old who had played his whole career in his native Colombia. He ignited the record-setting crowds at CenturyLink Field from his first match, when he scored two goals in the inaugural game in a nationally televised 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. He would go on to score 12 goals and earn MLS Newcomer of the Year honors in 2009.

“I came here as a young player and in the last four years, I got the opportunity to grow and be more mature in the game and off the field,” he said.

He went on to score double-digit goals in each of his four seasons and was a three-time MLS All-Star, finishing with a career-high 13 goals in his final season in 2012. He also added seven goals in 13 matches in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, helping Seattle to three straight championships and a finals appearance in the fourth year. In the CONCACAF Champions League, he also exceled with six goals in 18 matches.

In his brief stop back in Colombia with Millonarios, he started 19 of 21 matches and scored seven goals to lead the first division club.

His venture to Europe may be a dream for him, but it is also a feather in the cap for Seattle and they didn’t discount the chance that he may one day play in the Rave Green again.

“He had great success here with the Sounders. For him to be able to try it in Europe or try it in South America again to see where he’s at is a great experience for him,” Henderson said. “He was very important for us and our success and getting to the playoffs every year and winning Open Cups. You never know, in the future, to see Fredy back in a Sounders jersey again would be great for everyone.”

For his part, Montero still maintains a home in Bellevue and plans to keep ties to the city. His wife is due with the couple’s first baby in October and she is staying in Seattle until their daughter is born. It is a connection to the city that his wife, Alexis, maintains as a native of the Puget Sound, but also one that has grown into a large part of Montero, himself.

“This is my second home,” he said. “It’s always going to be my second home.”