Montero responds to challenge, ends scoring drought

It’s good to be back on the scoresheet for Fredy Montero.

Before hitting the 90th minute winner against Toronto FC Saturday night, Seattle’s Designated Player hadn’t scored since May 7 against Columbus, a span of six matches.

To say it was a difficult six weeks would be an understatement. After a disappointing loss at home to FC Dallas in late May, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid challenged Montero through the press to score more goals. Dealing with an injured wrist protected by a burdensome cast, Montero had to answer the questions arising from Seattle’s lack of goals.

The breakthrough finally came in Toronto. The free kick, taken in the final minute before stoppage time, snuck around the near side of the wall and beat Stefan Frei at his near post. It would have been a challenging angle for anyone to score from, much less a striker who been struggling.

However, Montero showed no hesitation, taking a short run up and striking a deceptively powerful shot past Frei.  

           WATCH: Montero buries Toronto
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“Yes, this is why everyone gives such congrats to him, he deserves it,” Seattle midfielder Mauro Rosales said of Montero. “He scores some goals and works very hard for the team.”

“Sometimes he doesn’t score but he is working very hard for us, he is the team’s top scorer so he has to score otherwise nobody can notice. But now he’s proved he’s a very good player and he has to enjoy it and be comfortable for the next one.”

Seattle also got a strong performance from Rosales. A slight modification in the lineup put Rosales out to right midfield, swapping spots with Brad Evans. Seattle had better success in the latter stages of the Vancouver game with Rosales out wide, where he scored Seattle’s first goal in a 2-2 draw.

With Evans coming off injured and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado taking a red card, Rosales went the distance in midfield, playing the final 41 minutes a man down.

Additionally, Seattle got a dangerous presence from Mike Fucito, who came close a couple times for Seattle. For the second consecutive game, Montero and Fucito started up top as Seattle used the same starters for the second consecutive week.

The win put Seattle in third place in the Western Conference with 25 points from 17 matches. At the halfway point of the season, the team finds itself right at the 1.5 points-per-match pace that Schmid generally points to as being good enough for a playoff spot.  

“They had a good chance that came off the post, sometimes you have to be a little lucky also and was a great effort from them,” Schmid said. “[Joao] Plata was giving [James] Riley some problems out there also on the flank, but we held firm and ended up getting a great goal from Montero at the end.”

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