CCL: Montero catching fire at just the right time for Seattle

Don’t call it a comeback — he’s been here for three years.

Fredy Montero delivered the knockout blows in Seattle’s 2-1 win over Herediano in Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League match. With the two goals, the Colombian striker now has either a goal or an assist in his last six appearances as he begins to show the production the Sounders expected when they made him a Designated Player.

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This season, Montero hasn’t accumulated stats at the pace many of expected of him. He is, however, rounding into form at just the right time. He now boasts 11 goals and nine assists in 31 games in 2011 as he continues to make his mark in Seattle’s attack.

For coach Sigi Schmid, watching Montero create in the offensive third is a welcome sight.

“Goal scorers, sometimes they are streaky,” Schmid said. “He is hitting a good streak and we need him to hit a good streak. We have been the kind of team, when he wasn’t on a streak, there was somebody else who would step up and score goals for us. It’s good to see Fredy get goals now.”

Earlier this season, Montero has occasionally drawn criticism from Schmid. After a May 25 loss to FC Dallas at home, Schmid chided Montero, saying, “He needs to score. End of story.” 

Montero seems to be responding to that challenge, albeit a few months after the fact.

Against Herediano, Montero was one of few regular starters in the lineup. Playing alongside his running mate of old, Nate Jaqua, the Colombian showed great instincts to flash behind the Costa Rican club’s defense. When Jaqua delivered the ball, Montero had plenty of time to set his feet for a shot inside the far post.

Schmid commended Montero on the early goal — the tally came in the third minute of play — which he said was “very important” in games played away from home. The second goal arrived when Montero put himself in great position to react to a saved Roger Levesque shot, elevating to hammer the ball home.

Ever modest in his post-match comments, the 24-year-old deflected attention away from himself.

“I just want to work every game,” Montero said. “If I keep scoring goals, that’s good for me because that is important for forwards. What’s important for me now is that the team gets the three points and looks forward to the next game."

Montero continues to be a fixture in Seattle’s attack, playing more minutes in all competitions this season (2,329) than any other Seattle attacker. His 107 shots and 39 shots on goal easily lead the team in both categories, while his nine assists are second only to Mauro Rosales’ 11.

Counting Wednesday’s output, he’s now scored four goals in the past three games across all competitions. With the US Open Cup Final and the MLS Cup playoffs still in the offing, Seattle will no doubt hope Montero can keep it going.

Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS