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.
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. “Hes 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 doesnt 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— there’s still 48 hours of healing to occur — but if he’s unable to play then Mauro Rosales likely will fill the withdrawn striker role against Chicago.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.
“Its 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.”
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. “Its timing for players. Its 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.
“Weve got to get ourselves out of where were at right now,” Henderson said. “And I think if we can get a win, it will really help the team confidence and mentality.”
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.
“Im feeling good. Every practice is better,” Jaqua said. “Im 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.
“Its always out there if youre a forward,” he said. “Its out there every game. You just keep plugging away doing what you do best. Crash the ball hard. Fight for the little ones. Maybe its the scrappy one you get first. then you score nicer goal.
“Its one of those things where you keep battling away. They’re going to come,” he said. “Were 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 its 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.