TUKWILA, Wash. — The international fortunes for Seattle’s two Designated Players have taken a turn for the worse.
Álvaro Fernández, despite playing in the 2010 World Cup, has been left out of Uruguay’s Copa América preparations at age 25. Fredy Montero, entering the prime of his career at 23, currently finds himself outside the Colombian national team picture.
One can imagine the frustrations they feel.
Fernández, who strained his hamstring against Real Salt Lake May 28, saw his chances dissipate with the injury.
“It’s a little bit frustrating because I had been in contact with the team and was going to be training with them,” Fernández said of the Uruguay set-up, “but I have been in conversations with them in the past few days and they let me know that I won’t be going to Uruguay to train right now because of my injury.”
Montero, who has four caps with the Colombian national team, but hasn’t been called up since 2009, is considered a longshot to make the team’s final 22-man roster. Final rosters must be submitted to CONMEBOL by June 27.
Montero’s form has dipped in recent weeks. Against Chicago, Seattle’s DP striker started on the bench behind Nate Jaqua and Mike Fucito after being called out by coach Sigi Schmid after a May 25 game against FC Dallas game.
“It’s frustrating,” Montero said. “I’m 23 and I feel like I have the experience and the training to be part of that team but it hasn’t happened thus far. I have been a part of qualifications before. If I’m not a part of this national team [for the Copa América], hopefully I’ll be part of the qualification games.”
According to Montero, the American league isn’t as respected as some other world leagues. That perception gap may have something to do with his exclusion.
“I haven’t had any communication with [the Colombian Federation] yet, but there are a lot of people [in the press] asking for me to be a part of that team,” Montero said through a translator. “Right now still in Colombia, the MLS isn’t a league that’s viewed as that competitive and so that’s an impression that we have to work on changing.”
It’s possible that the league’s playing style doesn’t suit either player — Montero is perennially near the top in fouls suffered, while Schmid called on Fernández to be tougher after the FC Dallas match.
If neither player is selected, they will remain with the Sounders for the month of July. For now, the task of re-energizing his team’s highest-paid players falls on Schmid’s shoulders.
“If anything, it should be a benefit to us and not negative to us," said Schmid, “because they should be wanting to raise their game for our team in order to gain the interest of their national team coaches.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS