Rave Green Diplomats: Sounders in Foreign Leagues

Could Montero and Friberg find themselves in UEFA Champions League next year? - Jonathan Ferrey

There are a couple of Sounders that could find themselves playing in UEFA Champions League next season.

Due to the nature of MLS as a salary cap league, there is a pretty high level of roster turnover each season. There are certain players that we become attached to for various reasons. We may think a player shows a great deal of potential. We may find the things they have to say in interviews or on social media interesting or humorous. Others provided memorable moments in matches for the Sounders.

It can be difficult keeping track of players who leave for leagues whose matches aren't available on American television. With that in mind, let's take a look at what some former Sounders players are doing in foreign leagues.

Fredy Montero, Sporting CP (Portugal): 9 goals, 1 assist in 618 minutes

Montero is the player that Sounders fans are following the most closely. This is partially due to how big a part of the franchise's history Montero has been. The fact that his performance for Sporting could affect whether or not the team gets allocation money from his transfer fee may be an even bigger part of it.

Fredy has been lighting up the Liga Zon Sagres this year, with 1.31 goals per 90 minutes thus far. He is the second leading scorer in the top 6 leagues in Europe. He has more goals than Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao this season. It seems inevitable that his form will translate into a national team call up, and it would be surprising if he maintains this level of production and doesn't play in the World Cup next year.

There are also other clubs in Europe that are beginning to take notice of Montero. Over the weekend, reports in Portuguese media began to emerge that AS Roma are interested in him (although Roma later clarified that he's only one of their options). As of Tuesday, as many as 3 La Liga clubs are interested in signing Fredy. Valencia and Malaga had Montero scouted in his most recent match, in which he scored two goals. It also appears that Villareal is interested.

Erik Friberg, Malmö FF (Sweden): 6 goals in 1,792 minutes

The player who endeared himself to fans for tweets about tacos and shoving an opposing player in the playoffs is having the most productive season of his career. His production has helped Malmö open up a 4 point lead at the top of the Allsvenskan table with 3 matches remaining. If Malmö can hold on to the top spot, Friberg will participate in UEFA Champions League next year for the first time in his career.

There's an outside chance of Friberg playing in the 2014 World Cup if Sweden qualifies. Though he has been on the fringes of the national team, Friberg's ability to score goals in a CM role could represent an appealing option for Erik Hamrén for matches leading up to Brazil, should Sweden qualify.

When he left Seattle, Friberg expressed a desire to come back to the Sounders at some point. His current contract expires at the end of the 2014 season, which could allow him to rejoin the Sounders for the 2015 season. That could wind up being great timing for Seattle, due to the expansion draft that will take place when New York City FC joins MLS.

Adam Johansson, IFK Göteborg (Sweden): 2,229 minutes in 26 appearances

The man who lost his starting job to Seattle's first ever home grown player is adjusting quite well to his return to Sweden. He has started in 26 of Göteborg's 27 league matches this season, helping his team rise to second place in the Allsvenskan table, with only Friberg's Malmö ahead of them.

Johansson has also made a return to the national team roster, appearing in the last two World Cup qualifying matches in winning efforts. He has also been on the bench for a majority of this round of qualifying matches for Sweden. At the age of 30, this is probably Johansson's last chance to play for his country in the World Cup.

Christian Tiffert, VfL Bochum (Germany): 340 minutes in 5 appearances

While Tiffert's move to Seattle last year certainly wound up being a benefit to his finances, it may not have been great for his career. In the space of a year he went from captaining a team that had just been relegated from Bundesliga (and is currently in contention for promotion) to a team fighting against relegation from 2. Bundesliga.

After appearing in Bochum's first 3 matches of the 2013/14 season, Tiffert failed to appear in the next 5 matches. He only recently returned to the lineup in the 2 most recent matches, playing his first full 90 last weekend for the first time in over two months.

Christian Sivebæk, Vejle (Denmark): 2 goals in 347 minutes

After failing to score a goal in over two years with 3 different teams in 3 different leagues, Sivebæk has scored twice this season, including the game winning goal last weekend that put Vejle in 5th place in Denmark's First Division (deceptively named because it's actually the second level in Denmark), only 5 points below a promotion spot in the table.

Sammy Ochoa, Lobos BUAP (Mexico): 0 minutes

Ochoa has yet to appear in a match for Lobos BUAP in Ascenso MX, but he was on the bench for 2 of their last 3 Copa MX matches. It's probably only a matter of time until he makes an appearance in Copa MX or Ascenso MX. He has the advantage of being in midseason condition, thanks to spending much of the 2013 season with the Sounders.

Mario Martinez, Real España (Honduras): 4 goals in 180 minutes

After failing to reach an agreement for a permanent deal with the Sounders and falling out of favor with the Honduras national team, Martinez appears to finally be returning to form with Real España. He has scored in all four matches in which he has appeared since returning to Honduras. If he can help his side win either the Apertura or Clausura title, he will return to CONCACAF Champions League next year, assuming he isn't signed by another team before then.

Álvaro Fernández, Nacional (Uruguay): 363 minutes in 5 appearances

Although "El Flaco" is still under contract with the Chicago Fire, he hasn't played in MLS since the end of the 2012 season. He spent the first half of 2013 with Al-Rayyan, where he played 854 minutes in 10 appearances in the Qatar Stars League and AFC Champions League.

Nacional, where he is currently on loan, is actually the club that sold Flaco to the Sounders in 2010. Although he hasn't scored a goal since last fall, he is getting regular minutes with Nacional.

Fernández has also been included in Uruguay's roster for 3 of its last 4 World Cup qualifying matches.

Miguel Montaño, Uniautónoma (Colombia): 1 goal in 360 minutes

Last month, Montaño scored his first goal since the 2011 NASL season when he was on loan to the Montreal Impact. He's also getting more playing time in Colombia's second division than he's seen since he played in the NASL. Those 360 minutes are distributed among 10 appearances, so he has played a bench role for most of the season. 109 of those minutes came in his last two appearances, so he may be growing into a larger role as the season progresses.

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