LOS ANGELES – Fredy Montero's second spell as a Vancouver Whitecap got underway on Saturday night, as the Colombian striker played the first half of the 'Caps final preseason match, a 1-0 loss to LAFC, after finally joining the team on Thursday.
Montero headed back to Vancouver after spending just over a year with Portuguese side Sporting CP. With six months and two option years left on his Sporting contract, leaving hadn't been on his mind, but the Lisbon club hadn't begun discussions about a new deal until Vancouver's interest came through.
That left Montero with a dilemma of waiting till the summer to see what was on offer from the Primeira Liga side or returning to a place he knew well, with the stability of a two-year deal on the table from Vancouver.
He said there was only one option in his mind.
"For me it was like, ‘should I wait, because they are maybe waiting to finish the season, and see what's going to happen?" Montero told MLSsoccer.com. "I didn't want to wait that long. Vancouver is a city that I know. We loved our year here. It wasn't difficult to keep talking and asking questions about the opportunity that was coming up with Vancouver.
"This time it wasn't about the money. Two years is going to give me stability. My family and I were looking for that."
Montero's first spell with Vancouver in 2017, his fifth overall season in MLS, saw the striker mount his most productive season in the league, scoring 15 goals across all competitions.
That was achieved in a system that didn't play to his strengths under Carl Robinson, with the striker finding himself often isolated and having to drop back or float out wide to get the ball and at times become more of a creator than a finisher.
With new coach Marc Dos Santos promising a more attacking style of play with a high press and attacking wingbacks, the new-look Whitecaps should fit Montero's game to a T.
"It's going to be a fun year, I'm pretty sure," Montero said. "With the new strategy, the new coach, and a new objective of trying to win a trophy in Canada, try to make the playoffs, and keep advancing. That's what we're looking for and we're working hard on that.
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"The style that [Dos Santos] is trying to establish here is a Portuguese style, which I know perfectly and that I can do well and score goals. I know that I'm ready."
Montero returns after a massive winter of turnover at the club. Only two players remain from the matchday squad in his last game as a Whitecap, a Western Conference Semifinal loss to his former club Seattle in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
After his achievements with Vancouver in 2017, the pressure to perform will be on him from the start. But Montero is confident that despite the new personnel around him, he'll soon rekindle that scoring form of two years ago, and add some much needed experience to a young Whitecaps squad.
"The extra pressure, or whatever is coming up for me, I'm ready to face it," Montero said. "My year in Vancouver was good. I know my value. I know that I can score goals, I know that I can be a playmaker and can assist. At my age, I have nothing to prove.
"I just want to add my experience, my game, to the young guys. The new group is coming along really well and hopefully in these two years we have an opportunity to lift a trophy. That's the main goal: trying to build a championship mentality and be a club in MLS where any player would like to come here to play."