VANCOUVER, BC – In the span of one week, Vancouver Whitecaps FC have solidified their striking corps with the additions of a proven MLS goalscorer and a highly-touted young talent.
After last week’s acquisition of 20-year-old Uruguayan striker Joaquín Ardaiz, the ‘Caps announced on Friday that the club has re-acquired Fredy Montero. The 31-year-old talisman, who most recently spent 13 months with Portuguese Primeira Liga club Sporting Clube de Portugal, joins Whitecaps FC on a two-year contract after scoring a team-high 15 goals in all competitions while on loan in 2017.
“When Fredy mentioned his interest to come back to Vancouver, right away we felt it was a good option for us,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos. “I think that having a player with his experience, who wants to be here, who wants to play for the club, was a no-brainer.”
Montero played a key role for Vancouver in 2017, helping the ‘Caps finish just one point out of first place in the Western Conference before earning their first-ever win in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Not only did Montero lead the team in scoring, he also finished third on the team with six assists and formed a formidable partnership with Whitecaps FC attacking midfielder/forward Yordy Reyna – with the duo combining on four goals in just eight starts together.
The Colombian’s loan expired following the 2017 season, but Vancouver maintained his MLS rights and protected him in the MLS Expansion Draft, knowing a return could materialize down the road.
After leaving the club at the end of the 2017 season, Montero started 18 of his 37 appearances with Sporting CP, scoring nine goals across all competitions. Five of those goals came in the UEFA Europa League, including a tally against La Liga side Atlético de Madrid.
Meanwhile, Dos Santos has completely revamped Vancouver’s roster since taking over as head coach in November. Montero, in fact, was his 14th acquisition. He’s also the most experienced of the bunch as it pertains to MLS play, totalling 60 goals and 40 assists in 152 regular season appearances, which was part of the allure for the new ‘Caps manager.
“We made a lot of changes in the roster,” Dos Santos said. “A lot of players are going to play their first year in MLS. So we wanted to make sure that every player we had the opportunity to bring that knows the league, can bring quality. In the case of Fredy, [he] knows the club, knows the city, and doesn’t count as a foreigner. It just made sense in every aspect to bring him here.”
The ‘Caps now have three very different options to lead the line.
In Montero, they have a prototypical poacher – someone who creates offence through his soccer IQ, movement, and finishing ability. He’s a player who also links with the team and makes those around him better, as evidenced by his average of eight assists per season in MLS.
“He’s a very smart player,” Dos Santos said.
In Ardaiz, they have an explosive, left-footed forward who will get in behind and stretch opposing defences using his athleticism. Having played in the top divisions of Uruguay, Belgium, and Italy at just 20 years old, he’s also someone “with a very high ceiling,” according to Dos Santos.
And in Theo Bair, a 19-year-old Whitecaps FC Academy product, they have an up-and-coming young Canadian who at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds can hold up play and go toe-to-toe with some of the most physical centre backs in MLS.
“Now you start having three different options depending where we are in the season, how many games in the week, and what forward is more suited to what game," Dos Santos said. “And I think now with Yordy, Lass, Lucas, Ardaiz, Montero, Theo, and PC that can be a winger, we have options to cover all those positions in the attack.”