VANCOUVER, BC – “A prolific scorer with a penchant for the improbable.”
That’s how NBC described Fredy Montero in the opening line of a 2011 documentary. A little dramatic? Maybe. But Montero scores goals – often in spectacular fashion.
He always has, no matter where he’s played.
And now, he’s coming to Vancouver.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today that the club has acquired Montero on a one-year loan from Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda in what is arguably the biggest signing in club history. The 29-year-old Colombian striker joins Whitecaps FC as a Designated Player, just in time for the start of the 2017 season.
"It’s a great signing for us," Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told whitecapsfc.com. "Obviously we’ve been looking to try and strengthen the forward areas and we’ve managed to find a good one we believe in."
With the help of an old friend.
Turns out it was former Whitecaps FC midfielder Mauro Rosales, a former teammate of Montero's, who first got in touch with Robinson about the possibility of bringing the Colombian to Vancouver.
"He knew I was looking for a number nine," Robinson said. "We had searched for about 20-25 number nines, to try and find the best fit for us and this group moving forward. And we heard the possibility he might be available on loan. As soon as that was mentioned to me, I followed through with it. There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes and we managed to get it over the line. Mauro certainly deserves a pat on the back."
We may have to be a bit patient to see Montero in action, since this is the preseason for him as well and his last competitive match was last October. So it will likely take him a little while to get back up to speed. By all accounts, however, he'll be worth the wait.
Montero ticks all the boxes. The most important one being: he has a knack for scoring goals.
He scored goals in his native Colombia with the likes of Deportivo Cali and Athletico Huila, where he was the top scorer in the Liga Postobon in 2007 and 2008. He scored goals in Major League Soccer as a member of Seattle Sounders FC, becoming the top scorer in franchise history. He scored goals in Portugal with Sporting CP, where he appeared in five UEFA Champions League matches. And most recently, he scored goals in China, nine in 29 appearance with Tianjin Teda.
He also creates them.
During his time in MLS, for example, Montero had 34 assists to go along with 47 goals in 119 MLS regular appearances – an average of about eight assists and 12 goals per season.
So in addition to scoring goals himself, the hope is that Montero will make the players around him better – players such as fellow South American Yordy Reyna, who has impressed in his first two preseason matches and could play alongside Montero or just underneath him as a second striker, and the likes of Alphonso Davies, Kekuta Manneh, and Cristian Techera.
"He’s an exciting player and a very smart player," Robinson said. "He puts himself in good areas and he works for the team as well. We’re not a team that’s able to carry any single player. So it’s really important we found a player that’s able to buy into that team environment and Fredy certainly does that."
Perhaps just as important as Montero’s impressive resume is the fact he knows MLS – and the Pacific Northwest in particular. In fact, at the age of 16, Montero was already picking the brain of countrymate and then FC Dallas midfielder Oscar Pareja about MLS on bus rides to and from training sessions at Colombian side Deportivo Cali.
“I remember [Montero] would ask me some pretty advanced questions about MLS even though he was still young,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “He was interested to know about the league.”
Sure, the league has changed since he left, but many of the demands are the same.
Montero spent four seasons in Seattle from 2009 to 2012, becoming acclimatized with the weather, travel, and style of play – something that is much easier said than done.
“In Colombia there’s more space, more time and the rhythm is different, while here [in North America] it’s power, speed and dynamic play,” Montero told Colombian daily El Tiempo in December 2012. “But the truth is that I’ve grown a lot as a player since I arrived at the Sounders. I can say that I’m a more complete player.”
A player that is now in the prime of his career.
The fact that Montero is 29 years old might be the most exciting aspect of this signing. He’s not an up-and-comer. He’s not over the hill. He’s an experienced player with a lot left to give. A player that has “finishing ability, a world-class first touch, and deceptive explosiveness,” according to MLSsoccer.com.
Did we say finishing ability?
“A prolific scorer with a penchant for the improbable?” Sounds about right.