Through six league matches, the Seattle Sounders have scored just three goals. That's obviously pretty bad. It has become rather popular to point out that the Sounders seem to be missing a certain Fredy Montero.
While I won't dispute that, I don't think it's his scoring that is the biggest missing ingredient. The Sounders do not lack players who have a proven ability to score.
What they've been missing, is Montero's ability to stay healthy and thus contribute in any number of ways even when he wasn't putting the ball in the back of the net.
Easily Montero's most overlooked quality during his four seasons in Seattle was an almost uncanny ability to avoid injury. Montero only missed eight league games, allowing hime to make 146 appearances across all competitions. No MLS forwards can really come close to matching that record.
After pulling up lame ahead of Saturday's match against the Colorado Rapids,Eddie Johnson has now missed nine league games just six matches into his second season with the Sounders. That's not meant to pick on Johnson -- there are any number of Sounders who have missed as much or more time -- but he was expected to pick up a lot of the scoring load the Sounders lost when they loaned out Montero.
Making Montero's absence even more apparent is the fact that none of the Sounders' top forward options have been able to stay healthy. Obafemi Martins, probably the most direct replacement for Montero, arrived over a month ago but has been unable to give a full 90 minutes in any of his three appearances and David Estrada has been limited to just two appearances due to a pair of injuries. Call it an excuse if you want, but there are most MLS teams are going to struggle to score when they are relying on their fourth- and fifth-choice forwards.
When Montero was here, though, that was really never an issue, mainly because he was so reliably available. In the one game he did miss last year, the Sounders still managed to start the perfectly capable duo of Johnson and Mauro Rosales. Somewhat predictably, the last time the Sounders had to go similarly deep into their pool of forwards was when Pat Noonan started alongside Mike Fucito against the Philadelphia Union late in the 2011 season. The result? A 2-0 loss at home.
Staying healthy is a skill. Amidst all the both legitimate and ridiculous criticisms of Montero, I wonder if this was one attribute that almost everyone overlooked.