The Sounders signed forward Fredy Montero to a one-year deal with an option to extend the contract through 2022 and 2023, the club announced Thursday. The Colombian will join the team’s preseason camp once he’s passed mandatory quarantine and testing protocols.
“Fredy is a prolific forward who’s proven himself in MLS and abroad,” said Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders general manager and president of soccer. “When good players return to Seattle, it speaks to the strong culture that we’ve built. I’m looking forward to bringing him into the group and seeing what he can contribute to our attack.”
News of Montero returning to Seattle was first reported by Niko Moreno of Pulso Sports. The bilingual site created a flurry of anticipation Wednesday.
The club’s official Twitter account posted a video of Montero addressing Sounders fans on Thursday.
“My family and I are really happy to stay in town,” Montero said. “We have so many good memories here, and I can’t wait to make more.”
Montero, 33, is a free agent who likely became more intriguing as a roster addition last week after forward Jordan Morris suffered a season-ending knee injury while on loan with Swansea City A.F.C. Morris wasn’t expected to play for the Sounders until the fall at the earliest but the injury makes his future murky.
Lagerwey and his staff haven’t been able to scout talent in-person due to COVID-19 restrictions. Montero is a familiar player who also is based in the Seattle area, decreasing the gamble in offering a deal that fits within the club’s tight salary cap.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer alluded to the signing during a videoconference call with media on Tuesday. But it was more so in line with standard roster building.
“All along our idea, whether Jordan got injured or not, was to go through this first part of the year (and) find out what happens with Jordan’s loan,” Schmetzer said of possible monetary gains if Morris performed well enough for Swansea to purchase his full rights.
“There’s probably room for another experienced MLS guy,” Schmetzer said. “If there’s a veteran MLS guy that is good value, who fits the needs, all of that sort of stuff. A lot of times teams go through preseason, there’s guys that fall off from different rosters, there might be the odd free agent that comes up. We’ll keep looking. We’re still looking.”
Montero was one of the Sounders’ first stars, playing for the club from 2009-12. The creative player is tied with Clint Dempsey as the Rave Green’s all-time leading goal scorer with 47 and helped Seattle win three U.S. Open Cup titles.
Montero has played internationally and returned to MLS in February 2017 to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps F.C. on a one-year loan from China’s Tianjin Tigers F.C. Montero led the Cascadia rival to their first MLS playoff win that season.
After playing in Portugal in 2018, Montero returned to Vancouver for the past two MLS seasons. He finished with five goals and five assists in 11 starts and 16 appearances last year.
Montero doesn’t address the Sounders’ direct need in a left winger but Schmetzer didn’t shy from the idea of a starting lineup featuring another striker alongside Raul Ruidiaz. The latter is also likely to be called up multiple times to play for his Peru national team, furthering the need for more goal scorers.
“There’s a strong possibility that we’re going to put a little bit more work into a secondary formation just to see what that looks like,” Schmetzer said. “I can’t remember a time when there was that one spot even available and your consensus of starters, there’s always going to be competition, but it wasn’t quite as open as it is now. How we fill that. How do we, not replace Jordan, because you’re not replacing Jordan, how do you fix that situation? I know Garth has always been able to pull rabbits out of his hat and get players.”