Judging MLS talent - the Montero Edition

It seems like all the buzz these days in comments at the Seattle Times, or at GoalSeattle, or even in the seat right next to me is how much Fredy Montero sucks. Words like lazy are thrown out. Poor passer. Bad Touch. Lucky first week.

While certainly all of these may apply in some degree, we should remember first that Montero is in MLS, after taking a small step up the league scale from Colombia. He should be judged versus those in his league. And amongst those he is one of the top scoring threats (tied for 9th) and one of the most productive (8th amongst players with 600+ minutes). Again the counter is the simple minded "He just had a great two matches."

Sure, so does every player on those lists, but guess what?

None of those players ahead of him on those lists are in his age group, nor are they new to the league. So if you want to ignore March, I remind you again, that Montero is young (he would be a GA if he had gone to college) and inexperienced.

Amongst the peer group of all attacking players (F/M) born within a year either side of Montero and ignoring Fredy's great first two matches a rather surprising FACT comes out. Montero is probably second or third best maybe fourth, while including all of their minutes.

Without March Fredy Montero has 2 Goals and 2 Assists in 716 minutes. Marco Pappa is clearly better, in his 1030 minutes he has 4 goals and 2 assists, Chris Pontius in 1051 minutes had 3 goals and 2 assists and Steve Zakuani in 838 minutes had 2 goals and 3 assists.

Some others might enter into the conversation, Wallace, Movsisyan, Ekpo, maybe Eddie Gaven based on his six years in the league. But think about this, in order for anyone to try and force Montero into this peer group they have to ignore 180 minutes played, 2 goals and an assist.

Some of Montero's peer group is very good. Some will have long MLS careers, but most will be in Europe by the time they hit 25. Three are battling for the Rookie of the Year (Pontius, Wallace and Zakuani).

NONE have been as impressive over the season as Fredy Montero.

Sure, he could be better. But if he was better he wouldn't have been available on loan from the third best league in South America to the second best league in North America. Sure he could be better defensively, but he'd probably miss more matches for international duty. He certainly could be a better passer, but then he'd probably be playing for a mid-table team in Spain. He could be better at making runs, rather than being an on-ball man, but he probably wouldn't have learned that playing in Colombia as a youth.

There are lots of things that could make Montero better. Most of them involve a coach that develops complete talent, a guy who has coached youth successfully. There is a man like that right in Seattle.

But there is one thing that makes Fredy a special talent in this league, at this age. He scores goals, and actually creates a bit for his teammates in ways that NO OTHER player at his age and experience is currently doing.

This is Major League Soccer, it is the second best league in CONCACAF, fourth best in the hemisphere. It isn't the EPL. It isn't La Liga. So judge Fredy Montero, judge each and every one of the Sounders, judge each and evey member of the league and drive it to improve. Watch league matches not involving the Sounders, learn the nuance of this hybrid of Scotland and Colombia, but always remember, this is MLS and Fredy Montero is currently one of the better forwards in the game.

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