BY Stanley Holmes 06:59PM 04/06/2011

Montero now unlikely to be back against Fire

Striker Fredy Montero has a small window to be healthy enough to make the Sounders’ starting 11 Saturday against Chicago. If he is, it could be the first time that Coach Sigi Schmid can select from a full squad.

Sounders striker Fredy Montero. (Drew McKenzie/Sports Press Northwest)

The Seattle Sounders have been hoping to have forward Fredy Montero available to play against the Chicago Fire this Saturday despite having a fractured wrist.

But that now looks increasingly unlikely, said Coach Sigi Schmid, who spoke to reporters Thursday following practice at Qwest Field.

“The chance of him (Montero) playing on Saturday is unlikely at this stage because there is still some swelling in there,” Schmid said. “They want to make sure that there is still no infection into the wound.”

Montero was involved in some light training today, but he did not participate in the squad scrimmages.  “He’s able to do some light stuff and we had him out here doing a little bit of stuff before, but right now unless there is a miraculous change tomorrow, it doesn’t look likely,” Schmid said.

Don’t rule out Montero entirely — there’s still 48 hours of healing to occur — but if he’s unable to play then Mauro Rosales likely will fill the withdrawn striker role against Chicago. He performed ably in that role against San Jose, adding an assist and creating all kinds of havoc in the right channel.

But it could be someone else partnering with O’Brian White up top — though Schmid wouldn’t say. It’s clear Schmid is tweaking the line up for the Chicago match. Expect Rosales to be on the pitch — but where he might be playing is a tad unclear.

“I thought in the first half last week offensively we played alright but we are still looking at possibilities and maybe some lineup changes,” Schmid said. Overall offensively I thought we did alright and I thought Rosales had a good 45 minutes, for sure.”

It also appears Erik Friberg is much healthier and is slated to start along with Brad Evans, so that could leave designated player Alvaro Fernandez on the sidelines — again. Referring to an Evans-Friberg partnership, Schmid said: “I think there will be a relationship that will develop between those two where they become pretty interchangeable. The more they understand each other and when to do that, the more dangerous they become.”

Montero, who has scored 22 goals in his first two seasons, has not practiced  until Thursday.

Montero missed the 2-2 draw at San Jose last week following surgery on his right wrist. Though goals have been a bit of a premium until the San Jose game, it’s not for lack of trying. The Sounders have been averaging 16 shots per game.

Montero’s addition could help convert those shots into goals. The Colombian has been very active and creative when he’s played but has yet to bury one. He is certainly due. He has taken 14 shots so for, and placed 9 on frame. Montero still leads the league in shots and shots on goal.

With nearly everyone available for the Fire — except forward Mike Fucito —  it could be the first time this season that Coach Sigi Schmid can select from a full squad. If Montero is healthy, fans might see Seattle’s strongest lineup for the first time this season.

“It’s good that we have so many guys healthy and it would good to get Montero in the mix,” said Chris Henderson, Sounders technical director. “And then we can really look at everyone for selection.”

The youngest Sounders players are collecting balls and bagging them up after training at Qwest Field / photo by Kyle Scholzen

Meanwhile, Henderson acknowledged the Sounders ownership is looking at foreign players to bolster the squad. They’ve been looking at forwards and quality players in other positions, he said. It’s possible Seattle could be quite active during the summer transfer window — but it appears nothing is imminent before the close of the mid-April transfer deadline.

“Yes, there is a good chance of that,” Henderson said.  “It’s timing for players. It’s getting the right guy who will be a good fit for our team. There is that chance for sure before the end of the summer window…We are looking at a lot of positions.”

Looking for a proven goal scorer is the obvious position but Henderson said that also depends on the form of the current players. He says players have been creating their chances and working hard to reverse the current 0-2-2 record. Sometimes, it just takes some luck, or continued belief.

The statistics bear this out. Seattle leads the league in shots (64), shots on goal (36), fouls committed (54), offside (15) and corner kicks (25).  O’Brian White is second (13). Montero (10) and White (9) are also first and second in shots on goal. Erik Friberg is fifth in MLS with 13 corner kicks.

But the team is aware the pressure is on.

“We’ve got to get ourselves out of where we’re at right now,” Henderson said. “And I think if we can get a win, it will really help the team confidence and mentality.”

Sounders forward Nate Jaqua. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

One of the team’s strikers who is itching to contribute is Nate Jaqua. He has been coming back from injury and put in 30 minutes against San Jose. He’s behind White for the moment, but says he’s ready if called upon. He’s as healthy as he’s been since the first season.

“I’m feeling good. Every practice is better,” Jaqua said. “I’m not too worried about pushing it minutes-wise. It’s a matter of getting that fitness back.”

Jaqua says he’s aware of the pressure to score more goals and win some games. As a forward, the pressure to score is always present, he said. But he’s confident the goals will start coming.

“It’s always out there if you’re a forward,” he said. “It’s out there every game. You just keep plugging away doing what you do best. Crash the ball hard. Fight for the little ones. Maybe it’s the scrappy one you get first. then you score nicer goal.

“It’s one of those things where you keep battling away. They’re going to come,” he said.  “We’re a good team, we have to believe in that and keep fighting.”

Facing off against the Chicago Fire at Qwest Field could be the right moment to turn this belief into goals and find the first victory of the season. The Sounders have never lost to the Fire. The club drew twice during the inaugural 2009 season and swept last year’s series, thanks to a pair of late game-winning goals.

Under second-year coach Carlos de los Cobos, the Fire (1-0-1) got off the mark with a draw at FC Dallas and a 3-2 home win over Sporting Kansas City. Chicago’s off week was partially filled by a U.S. Open Cup play-in win, 2-1, over Colorado on March 30.

Schmid’s take on Chicago: “They have made a lot of changes. They have two completely new forwards in the two Uruguayans up front. They brought in a new center back. Corey Gibbs is new as well to the group. (Jali) Anibaba is a draft pick. (Gonzalo)Segares returned last year. (Michael) Videira is a guy they picked up. So it’s really a team that has changed like eight of their 11 starting positions. So far they have gotten off to a good start.”

But Schmid expects only one outcome on Saturday — getting the first win of the season.


YourThoughts

  • Pingback: Exit 164: The ship be sinking | sportspressnw.com()

  • Pingback: Exit 164: Opening Day! (Not for Adam Moore) | sportspressnw.com()

  • Soggyblogger

    Wow. Far out. Awesome, dude. I laughed out loud three or four times as I read this article. I was wondering if/when you would make the effort to write like that again after reading three or four of your barroom chats with friend Steve that you published for reasons I couldn’t fathom.

    You have restored my faith in you and this site. Write on. 

    • Artthiel

      As long as you love us, we’re here.
       

  • GoDucks

    “formerly arrogant Huskies.”

    Really?

    • Michp

      I’m still arrogant. :) Go Dawgs!

    • Artthiel

      0-12 does a lot for the rise of humility.

  • Sara Orr

    Phil Knight attended the University of Oregon as an athlete.  He graduated and continued on with his education at Stanford.  He is generous with the money he has earned.  Both Stanford and Oregon have received large funds from him.  HIs dedication to the schools that helped him reach his professional goals is to be admired.  Nike money does flow into the Athletic department at the University of Oregon as many Nike employees graduated from that school.  How Phil Knight chooses to spend his money is his choice.  Many colleges in America have facilities named after large money donors.  The fact that Oregon has a former athlete contributing to the school is something to be proud of.  

    • Artthiel

      Never said he did anything wrong. But he is the unappointed, unelected, unpaid king of the university. Which is good and bad. Ask anyone from feudal Europe over the last 1,500 years. 

  • Mssearch

    Art – Psst, Art…you spilled a little purple Kool Aid on your beard.  Phil Knight has supported his alma mater(s) as is his right, but he’s never caught, thrown, or shot a ball @ Autzen and or MattCourt…..swell that the Huskies dominated the rivalry in the early 90’s, but irrelevant to the current players who were infants at the time.  You sound very similar to the lost souls demonizing their plight as 99%ers, blaming others for one’s lack of achievement.

    • Artthiel

      Never said Knight did anything wrong. My point was that college ball is all about the money, and Oregon has it. So does Okla State with T Boone Pickens. Wouldn’t that be wonderfully underscored if they met in the BCS title game? 

  • Chris

    I was a student at the UO in the early 80s.  During my 4 years in Eugene the football team won a total of 14 games, finishing 9th in the conference standing twice.  In those days sports writers from the big cities would write about how Oregon and Oregon State didn’t belong in the Pac-10, that they should leave for the WAC, because they simply were never going to be able to compete with the likes of Washington, USC and the other big schools.

    There’s an old saying in military circles about how generals from the winning side are always fighting the next war with their winning strategy from the previous war, and that losing generals have to come up with something new for the next war…or they’ll continue being the losing generals.

    With that analogy in mind, here in the NW it’s fairly clear that the Huskies have been stuck in 1991 for quite a while.  And it’s also clear that the Ducks have NOT been stuck there.  As long as Husky fans are complaining about Phil Knight, I guess that means the Ducks are winning.  Ouch!! 

    • Arttthiel

      Absolutely true that the Huskies were stuck in the 90s, from tactics to facilities. They’re playing catch-up. As a former Huskies coach once said, scoreboard, baby. But now they appear, with the investment in coaches and facilities, to be joining the arms race. 

  • Michp

    Phil Knight owns Oregon and should not be long till we get the official Phil Knight U name change. Oregun has no tradition so they market with laughable uniforms. Enjoy your 15 seconds of fame Oregun, soon you will be back where you belong…chasing owls in trees. Washington has decades and decades of tradition and will never sell out to market a sneaker company. Go Dawgs!

  • Cgerv25

    Great article Art, you nailed as you usually do!

  • #7inarow

    Huck the Fuskies