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Next stop, Sporting Lisbon: Seattle Sounders announce Fredy Montero’s latest loan

Jul 22, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT

Seattle Sounderss v Portland Timbers Getty Images

After a spell with Colombia’s Millionarios that saw him score 10 goals in 29 games, Seattle’s Fredy Montero has earned a ticket to Europe, albeit not the one he and his club may have originally hoped for. Montero’s on his way to Sporting Club of Portugal on loan, with an option to buy seeing the Sounders’ all-time leading scorer potentially move for a reported $3.3 million.

The club confirmed the move Monday, one which had been rumored for some time, though most anticipated the transfer would be a permanent one from the get start. But while a loan does get Montero to Portgual, it also makes his initial spell with Sporting a try-out. If he doesn’t perform well this fall, the club can walk away, leaving him to return to Seattle.

This isn’t exactly what many anticipated when Montero left Seattle this winter. When the Sounders let Montero return home, the player’s professed (but thin) explanation was to increase his chances to get into the Colombian national team. Others saw a Copa Libertadores campaign as a potential springboard to European transfer. After decent results (eight goals in 22 league games, no goals in five Copa matches), the full transfer didn’t come, though Montero has earned a look from one of Portugal’s three biggest clubs.

But with that look being only a loan, it’s worth considering whether this process has been worth it for Seattle. Or the player. Adrian Hanauer, Chris Henderson, and Sigi Schmid made the decision to move away from Montero this winter, a choice portended by Schmid’s use of the player at the end of last year’s playoffs (removing him from his final game). Combined with Montero’s desire to move, the loan to Millionarios seemed like a win-win situation for both parties. Montero gets his springboard, and Seattle gets to remake a club they felt needed to be tweaked in order to advance farther in the playoffs.

But with Seattle struggling in the standings and Montero failing to land a permanent move, both sides seem worse off for the gambit. Had Montero stayed, it’s likely he would have continued producing at the same levels that made him one of the league’s best attackers. Seattle, retaining their most creative player, could be playing more like last year’s team than the one that’s slumped to seventh in the Western Conference. Granted, we’d still be having the same trite debates about Montero’s big game performances and effort, but on the field, both the Sounders and the player may be better off.

Now comes Montero’s chance to establish himself in Europe, which won’t be easy. His failure to light up the Colombian league meant Sporting were reluctant to pay the $3 million-plus fee Seattle was said to be asking, leaving Seattle willing to accept a chance at recouping that money in the future. If that can’t — if Montero can’t do more to justify the fee than he did in Colombia — Seattle and their franchise’s best player may be set of an awkward reunion at the end of the loan.

  1. talgrath - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    I’m not so sure that the Sounders woes are due to missing Montero, myself. The Sounders have seen a lot of injuries to key players this season, almost everyone has had a turn on the sidelines with one injury or another; Zakuani will again be out for a long time, Alonso was gone for about a month, Martins has had a few leg problems, etc. Aside from injuries, there have also been a lot of national team call-ups in key positions, Brad Evans, Deandre Yedlin and Eddie Johnson have all been out at various times for the USMNT.

    It is also worth noting the Sounders were only a few points off from trying or beating their best ever mid-season standings in terms of points this year. While the Sounders are 7th in the west, they’ve also got at least 2 games in hand against every other team in the west; if they win their next three games they would be tied with Portland (if the points totals were to remain the same, which they won’t, of course); the next three games the Sounders play are very winnable too. A home match against Chivas is up first that will almost certainly rake in 3 points for the home side. The second match is against FC Dallas who have stumbled a bit as of late and lost the last time they visited Seattle. The third match is away to Toronto FC, they’re tougher to play against when you’re away, but that is very winnable. If the Sounders won all three matches, they’d like be back in playoff contention, and they’d still have a game in hand against a lot of their western conference opponents.

  2. hildezero - Jul 23, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    I hope Sporting ends up buying him after the loan contract, so Seattle can get good money for him before his value goes down.

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