All eyes in Seattle on Montero's postseason struggles
TUKWILA, Wash. – There aren’t too many holes in Fredy Montero’s MLS résumé.
The Seattle Sounders forward has scored big goals in important regular-season games, in US Open Cup matches and against CONCACAF opponents. In all, he’s scored 60 times across all competitions during his four-year career, by far the most of any player in Sounders history.
Scoring in the MLS postseason, though, has been the one exception.
As the Sounders head into the second leg of their Western Conference semifinal against Real Salt Lake on Thursday (10 pm ET; NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), Montero seems at ease with any pressure he might be feeling to end that drought.
“We’re excited because this is one of the matches every single player he wants to play,” Montero said. “We are happy to be here in the playoffs. But at the same time, we need to go forward to keep moving on, we need to win this game."
So far, Montero’s inability to find the back of the net has closely mirrored the performance of the Sounders. In seven playoff matches, Seattle have scored just three goals and been shut out five times.
In the first leg, Montero was held without a single shot. It was the first time this year that he had been held to fewer than two shots in a match he started.
“Teams will key on him a little bit more, they’ll concentrate a little bit more,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Now the question becomes does he have to do a little bit more at times? That’s a question that only he can answer at the end of the day. I think Fredy’s effort and his desire to help the team is there.”
While Montero wasn’t much of a threat to score himself against RSL, Schmid did see some positives. The Colombian came close to setting up David Estrada on a flicked header late in the match and he helped create some space for his teammates, who got several inviting looks.
In what may be a sign of maturity, Montero seems OK with playing a similarly low-key role if that means the Sounders are able to advance.
“We just need to put the ball in the net,” he said. “We know that’s not easy but we need to be focused because we probably won’t have a lot of chances there. The ones we have, we need to score.”