Whether he likes the role or not, no player responds to coming off the bench quite like Fredy Montero.
The Seattle Sounders forward broke out of a personal seven-match scoring drought with a 67th-minute equalizer to salvage a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. Of Montero’s five goals this season, three have come in a reserve role and four of five have come away from CenturyLink Field.
“I believe we rescued a point,” Montero said. “We rescued a point on a very tough venue to play in, with weather that was really bad to play in. The game seemed to slow down due to the heat and humidity on the pitch.”
The Sounders have now gone unbeaten in their past four league games and their past six overall.
Montero’s bench exploits go back to at least 2010. In 202 reserve minutes, he now has four goals and two assists. All but one of those goals and both assists have either tied the score or given the Sounders the lead. That doesn’t necessarily mean Montero is planning to make coming off the bench a regular habit.
“I don’t question the decision; I’m not the type of player that asks those questions,” Montero said. “I won’t second-guess the coach’s decision. If I’m on the bench I try to help my team when I step onto the pitch and today I was able to go in and score.”
Highlights: NY 2, SEA 2
This goal had to be particularly satisfying. Despite a strong showing in Wednesday’s US Open Cup semifinal, Montero found himself coming off the bench for a second consecutive league match.
But just two minutes after entering for Mauro Rosales, Montero was on the end of a well-placed cross from Brad Evans about eight yards from goal. Montero, who had gained a step on his defender, hit it first time to the far post to beat New York goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.
Right back Adam Johansson had actually started the play with a ball over the top to Evans. Johansson also assisted on the Sounders’ first goal, an Álvaro Fernández volley that came off an inch-perfect cross. Just to round out his performance, Johansson cleared a ball off the line that seemed destined to give the Red Bulls a late go-ahead goal.
It was that kind of day for the Sounders, who are now unbeaten in their past four league matches and seem to be catching some of the breaks that were eluding them during their winless run.
“Obviously we’re pleased to come out with a point,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think the fatigue from us playing on Wednesday coming into this game started to show a little bit. But, I thought we showed a lot of character going down 2-1, then coming back getting the equalizer, holding on for the tie at the end of the day.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.