In his 100th game as a Sounder, Fredy Montero celebrated with his first career hat trick in a wild, 6-2 triumph over Chivas USA Saturday night in Carson, CA., to move into a tie for second place in the MLS Western Conference with Real Salt Lake.
The Sounders (12-6-7, 43 points) shot out to a 3-0 lead in the first 34 minutes, then became careless on defense, allowing Chivas to close to 3-2. Montero took off the pressure when he scored his third goal in the 67th minute. Mauro Rosales fed the ball ahead to Montero, who cut between two defenders for a hard shot to the far post.
It was the fourth hat trick in Sounders history — joining Blaise Nkufo, Lamar Neagle and David Estrada — and Montero’s sixth goal in his last four games. He has 11, tying Eddie Johnson for the club lead. The six goals matched the club high, which came a year ago at home against Columbus.
The game was the first time the Sounders deployed their “big four” of Montero, Rosales, Eddie Johnson and Christian Tiffert, the designated player from Germany who signed in July. He scored his first assist on a long pass to Sammy Ochoa, a late sub, who slammed in a header from 15 yards in the 79th minute for a 5-2 lead.
The weird game for teams known for their defense climaxed in the 90th minute when Chivas defender Ante Jazic, attempting to control a long cross in front of the goal, headed the ball past beleaguered goalie Dan Kennedy.
Chivas entered the game having given up only 26 goals all season, but surrendered a quick one in the 10th minute. Montero saw Brad Evans streaking down the left flank past former Sounder James Riley. The ball came to Evans in stride and left him one-on-one with Kennedy, whom he beat with a low, easy shot to Kennedy’s left, Evans’ second score of the season.
In the 27th minute, Evans broke away again, stopped and centered the ball to Rosales, who delivered a no-look assist to Montero behind the defense for his ninth goal of the season.
The Sounders went up 3-0 in the 34th minute in a nifty bit of teamwork. Montero, nearly falling but maintaining control, pushed the ball sideways to Johnson, who sent it backward to Rosales, who then found Montero again behind the defense. He had an easy score after Kennedy over-committed forward.
Chivas got one back on a handball committed by Jeff Parke. Juan Agudelo scored on the penalty kick to make it 3-1 at halftime.
Matters grew tense for the Sounders in the 64th minute when Miller Bolanos took an almost leisurely solo drive toward the goal that was barely challenged by the Sounders’ back line, then drove the ball under diving goalie Michal Gspurning on his left.
But Montero came through 15 minutes later, improving the Sounders mark in the last nine games to 5-1-3. The Sounders move to play in the CONCACAF Champions League play against Caledonia at 5 p.m. Thursday at Couva, Trinidad.