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Simply Put: Fredy Montero Makes Seattle Sounders A Better Team

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Seattle Sounders fans should all be praying that Fredy Montero's stint on the bench is short-lived.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Seattle Sounders fans should all be praying that Fredy Montero's stint on the bench is short-lived. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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It's really this simple: The Seattle Sounders are a better team with Fredy Montero on the field. I'd like to think that most people don't really need to be convinced of this, but there are and will probably always will be people that watch Montero play and really believe that unless he's scoring a goal, his value is almost nil.

I'm fairly certain Sounders coach Sigi Schmid knows all this. Montero and Schmid seem to have a pretty decent relationship, and the coach's appreciation for his forward must be more nuanced than his statements after the loss of FC Dallas would suggest. In case you missed it, Schmid basically said that Montero is paid to score and if he's not scoring, there's a problem.

While there's more than a shred of truth in that statement, it grossly undersells Montero's contributions. From an purely anecdotal perspective, I see a player who helps set up teammates almost as often as he does the scoring himself and is a constant threat to break open a game.

Still, I was surprised when I actually ran the numbers. The Sounders score about .22 goals more per 90 minutes with Montero on the field than when he's on the bench. That wasn't a huge surprise, though.

What was a bit more shocking was how much better the Sounders defense was with him on the field. According to my research, which admittedly is essentially hand tabulated and could be less than 100 percent accurate, the Sounders allow almost half-a-goal less per 90 minutes with Montero on the field.

Combine those two numbers together, and you have a team that is essentially outscoring their opponents by .7 goals per 90 minutes. I'm pretty sure I don't need to say this, but THAT'S A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!

Minutes Goals GP90 GA GA90 Diff.

With Montero

5470

78

1.28

58

0.95

0.33

Without Montero

1190

14

1.06

19

1.44

-0.38

 

 

 

0.22

 

-0.48

0.71

As a point of reference, the best team on goal-difference over the same period of time is Real Salt Lake, who's +39 since 2009. That's the equivalent of .56 per 90, or about .14 less than the Sounders with Montero. The Los Angeles Galaxy, who have the second best goal difference over that time are at just .41 per 90.

To be fair the sample sizes are pretty drastically different. Montero has racked up 5,470 minutes over his Sounders career, while the the Sounders have played just 1,190 minutes without him. Still, that's roughly the same number of minutes Sanna Nyassi played last year.

Breaking down the numbers a bit, the Sounders have scored 78 goals with Montero on the field and just 14 without him. They've outscored their opponents by 20 goals with Montero, and been outscored by five goals without him. I'm not saying Montero is the only reason for these differences, and I made no attempt to run these numbers for other players on the team, but there seems to be some pretty clear relationship.

Admittedly, part of why I give so much credence to these numbers is probably because they fit my pre-existing bias. I love Montero's game, I won't try to hide that.

Montero is not a particularly pacey player, as many people have pointed out over the years, but he is a very clever player. I actually appreciate the way he stops the ball, looks for teammates rather than mindlessly putting his head down and charging ahead. He's easily the team's best passer and he's the most dangerous shooter as well.

Really, it's a skill set that would be well utilized at several positions. Obviously, he can play a pretty mean forward. His recent goal production, though, suggests maybe that's not the best way he's utilized. I really don't see any reason why he couldn't be deployed as more of a classic No. 10, and becoming more of a pure playmaker. I could even see him having success as a wide midfielder, especially if the Sounders are going with more of a diamond formation.

Unless Sigi throws us all a big curveball, I'm afraid we aren't going to see this anytime soon. For the time being, it really does look like Sigi sees Montero as a forward, and only as a forward. The good news is that he's at least shown a willingness to play him alongside someone like Mike Fucito. One way or another, Montero needs to be on the field. In this case, the numbers don't lie.