VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Fredy Montero has gone relatively unnoticed despite a banner season. That should change Wednesday night, when the Colombian will garner plenty of attention during a return to his former home with the Vancouver Whitecaps' visit to the Seattle Sounders (10:30 pm ET | TSN1; MLS LIVE in US).
Montero equaled a career MLS high on Saturday night with the opening goal in the Whitecaps' 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night. It marked his 13th of the season, tying the number he scored in his final season as a Sounders player, only this time with five matches remaining on Vancouver's schedule.
It all sets the stage perfectly for Wednesday, Montero's first game back in Seattle since 2012 Having spent four seasons with the Sounders, it's bound to be an emotional night.
"Well, it’s going to be at some point when the referee blows the whistle, [but] I know I’m going to try to win the three points for my team," Montero said. "Seattle adopted me as one of their players, and of course I did win many trophies with them, three US Open Cups.
"They gave me the opportunity to try to go to Europe, and to make my dream come true. I’m so thankful to them."
Although he isn't gaining as many of the headlines as he did then, Montero believes he's a more complete player now than when he became the Sounders' first star during the club's early MLS days.
"Before, as a young player, I wanted just to do my game," Montero said. "But now, it's much more about how I can help the youngest, how I can help the team, and even when the team needs me to come back and defend. I have to be there for the team and maybe before I didn't understand why I had to do that.
"I am more experienced now. I have 13 goals, matching what I did in the past, but the way that we play, the way that the team is looking forward every single game, I feel like it means a lot for me now."
Saturday was the fourth time this year that Montero has scored in back-to-back games and the fifth time he has contributed both a goal and an assist in the same match.
His contributions, and the partnership he has formed with Peruvian playmaker Yordy Reyna are key to the 'Caps current success.
"I don’t like the number 13, so hopefully he can get 14 on Wednesday," Vancouver coach Carl Robinson quipped. "[Fredy] has grown. I think he’s got more confident, the little fundamentals I want my forward players to do, hold the ball up, react positively, encourage the team, he’s done better, and that’s credit to him.
"When you’re confident and enjoying your football, and Fredy certainly is, you get into goalscoring opportunities ... You get your rewards if you put the work in, so he’s been brilliant for this organization."
Montero has already shown this season that, while he may still have a place in his heart for Sounders green, he now bleeds Whitecaps blue. The evidence? He's scored three goals for Vancouver in the sides' two previous meetings this season.
In that context, he's not sure what kind of reception to expect in the return to his former home.
"Honestly, I don’t know," Montero said. "I’m excited to see that. I respect all the people in Seattle, and I have a good past with them. But the history today says that I’m with [the] Whitecaps. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I just want to try to win the game for my team."