VANCOUVER â€” Playing against his old team will be special for Vancouver Whitecaps striker Fredy Montero, especially if he can find his scoring touch.
Montero and the offensively challenged Whitecaps will host the Seattle Sounders in a Major League Soccer match Saturday at BC Place Stadium. The Colombian spent four years playing for the Sounders, becoming Seattle’s all-time goal-scoring leader with 47 goals and 34 assists in 119 regular season games.
“It’s going to be a special game,” Montero said Friday after the Whitecaps practised under the closed roof at BC Place. “At the same time its not going to be different than the other games.
“I want to give my best, focus on winning the three points. Hopefully my teammates are looking forward to this game in the same way.”
Montero said only two players remain with the Sounders since he left the team in 2013, after Seattle loaned him to Colombian Primera A side Millionarios FC.
“It’s not about the players,” said Montero, who spent three years playing in Portugal before joining the Whitecaps this season on a one-year loan from Tianjin Teda of the Chinese Super League.
“The organization is bigger than any player that can be there (now) or in the past. I feel something special when I face this team. Hopefully tomorrow I am going to feel something new in my career.”
Montero was brought to Vancouver to score goals, an area the Whitecaps struggled last year when they missed the playoffs. He didn’t join the team until just before the season started and has one goal and an assist in five MLS games.
Head coach Carl Robinson expects Montero’s production to increase as his fitness level improves.
“I would like him to score a goal a game,” said Robinson. “He hasn’t done that. He’s got into areas where we’ve created chances.
“We didn’t get Fredy until a little bit later than I would have liked. It’s important we give him a little bit of time to get his full fitness under him. The only way he gets that is playing in games. He’s a natural goal scorer. He’s proven that.”
Montero also needs some help from his teammates feeding him the ball.
“We have exciting young players that can get balls in certain areas,” said Robinson. “We need help up there, we know that, to help Fredy.”
Besides being a Cascadia matchup, the game will be important as both the Whitecaps and defending MLS-champion Sounders are both looking to find their footing early in the season. Each team has managed just one win.
The Whitecaps (1-3-1) sit 10th in the Western Conference. The Sounders (1-1-3) are seventh in the West.
Vancouver has managed to score six goals this season but they came in just two games. The Whitecaps have been shutout three times, including a 3-0 loss in last week’s game against Real Salt Lake that was played in a blizzard.
Goalkeeper David Ousted said there is a sense of urgency heading into Saturday’s game.
“This is a huge match,” he said. “We want to get those points to climb the standings.
“We’re not panicking. I don’t see any reason for that. But we will definitely do everything we can tomorrow to get those three points.”
Seattle lost their opening match on the road in Houston but since then has been unbeaten in four games (1-0-3).
“Maybe there is some games we wish we could have won,” forward Jordan Morris told the Sounders’ website.
“We’re not in any panic or worry at all. We don’t mind playing on the road. We’ll go up there with the same mentality. You change a few things but go out there and try to take the game to them.”
Morris grew up watching Montero.
“He was a great player, scored a lot of goals,” he said. “He’s someone I can learn some stuff from, his movement in the box.
“It will be weird to see him on the other side of the field but I’m excited to play against him.”
After Saturday’s game the Whitecaps don’t play at home again for a month. Over the next four weeks they travel to Portland, Montreal, Colorado and Houston before returning home for a May 20 game against Sporting Kansas City.
“We know it’s hard going on the road but I believe in this team’s ability on the road to get points,” said Ousted.
“I’m not afraid of going on the road. I think we have a good enough side to go and get results on the road.”
Jim Morris, The Canadian Press