By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
TUKWILA — August has been a good month for Fredy Montero.
The Sounders FC forward scored goals in the club’s CONCACAF Champions League opener and in all three MLS matches play this month — most recently Saturday in Seattle’s 2-0 win over rival Vancouver.
Montero marked that goal by “Felixing” — two arms and a leg raised in celebration — as Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez did after his perfect game last week. The idea, Montero said, was tweeted to him by a fan.
On Tuesday, Montero was rewarded with the honor of throwing out the first pitch before a Mariners game at Safeco Field. He delivered what might have been a strike — maybe across the letters if facing a fairly tall batter — into the glove of Mariners catcher Jesus Montero (no relation).
“I feel good because at least I put the ball in the catcher’s hand, you know? That’s all,” Montero said Wednesday after the Sounders’ practice. “… I was really nervous. It is always a weird feeling when you are doing something you don’t do often. At the end of the day I was really happy. It was a really good experience and a big honor for me to be part of the first pitch of the Mariners.”
On the soccer pitch, Montero got off to a relatively slow start this season, while newcomer Eddie Johnson rocketed to the team lead with 11 goals. However, Montero — who has at least shared the team goals lead in each of his first three seasons — is up to eight and on pace to produce the kind of goal totals he has regularly produced: 12 in 2009, 10 in 2010, and 12 again last season.
“It is a good season for the team,” Montero said. “We are in the third position. We are always on the way to a playoff spot. Personally I feel that if I got good games and bad games, but always try to do the best for the team where I score goals or don’t have the opportunity to score.”
The Sounders are 11-6-7 and third in the MLS Western Conference as they prepare for their next league match at Chivas USA on Saturday.
Coach Sigi Schmid said Montero has played his typically important role in the club’s success.
“He’s found his goals lately, so he’s right comparable to where he’s been every season for us,” Schmid said. “What’s nice about it is we’ve got two of them (Montero and Johnson) right now that are scoring goals. I think we still need to get some more goals from other places, whether they’re off set pieces, whether they’re from our wide players. Our midfielders, we need to get them involved, as well. Overall, I’ve been very happy with the front two.”
Schmid, who threw out a first pitch for the Mariners in 2009, but said he hadn’t yet seen how Montero’s pitch stacked up.
“You guys would have to compare it to mine,” he said. “I thought my picture turned out well, my form looked good. But you can’t see where the ball goes, so that’s always a good thing.”
Midfield newcomer Mario Martinez expects to rejoin the Honduras national team next month for World Cup qualification matches. Schmid said Martinez, who played with the Honduras Olympic team this summer, will likely miss one Sounders match along with some training sessions. … Rookie midfielder Andy Rose suffered a broken rib in the Vancouver match and has been ruled out of the Chivas game. “He’s definitely out this weekend,” Schmid said. “Hopefully he’ll be cleared on Thursday and be able to participate again next week.” Whitecaps midfielder Gershon Koffie, whose foot caught Rose in the chest, received an immediate and has since been suspended a game and fined an undisclosed amount by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. … The Sounders will train at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila today and Friday morning before flying to Los Angeles in the afternoon.