By John Boyle Herald Writer
TUKWILA — After a slow start to the season, Fredy Montero has shown with four goals in the past five games that he is just fine.
Of course, if we have learned anything over the past few years, it is that we shouldn’t waste our energy worrying about the Sounders forward.
Yet six games into this season, Montero was goal-less, and people were asking what was wrong. Had he lost his scoring touch? When were the goals going to come?
Montero answered emphatically against Los Angeles with a 35-yard strike that likely will go down as one of the best goals in Major League Soccer this season, and he hasn’t slowed down since, scoring four goals and assisting on two more.
And Montero may keep his hot streak going tonight against Columbus, or maybe he’ll cool off and go a few games without a goal. If that does happen, however, Sounders fans should know by now that there are much better uses of their energy than worrying about the most productive player in the franchise’s young history.
When the Sounders joined Major League Soccer in 2009, Montero scored 12 goals to earn MLS Newcomer of the Year honors. He scored 10 more goals in 2010, then had 12 again in league play last season and 18 in all competitions. There are plenty of things with which Sounders fans can concern themselves; an occasional scoring drought from Montero need not be one of them. His slow start to 2012, as well as the way he responded to it, is a good reminder of that.
“The team knows, hey, it’ll come,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve seen it before. As a coach, I’ve been around him enough that he knows that I know it’ll come. I didn’t lose faith in him so I didn’t want him to lose faith in himself.”
Montero is still at young man at 24, but he also is a much more mature player now than when he came here in 2009. He credits that growth with helping him maintain balance whether he’s scoring spectacular goal — like he did in the 90th minute last weekend to secure a tie in Vancouver — or battling through a tough stretch when shots aren’t finding the back of the net.
“Right now I’m mature, I can say that,” he said. “I am more faithful with the team, with my teammates, with my coaches, with the fans and with myself. Every game, it doesn’t matter if I don’t score, I know we will have another opportunity in the next game. You have to keep working for the next game, that’s it.”
Montero admits that wasn’t always the case. He used to take the rough games home with him, used to spend his time away from the field wondering why he couldn’t covert scoring chances. Now he’s more mature, more composed, and even if the occasional rough patches are inevitable for any forward, Montero no longer lets it get to him.
“He’s a special player,” Sounders forward Eddie Johnson said. “We’re very fortunate to have him, and hopefully we’ll see him keep up the scoring ratio he has right now. … He’s in form right now. The more goals you get as a striker, the more confidence you get in front of the goal.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.