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Montero-Johnson Forward Partnership About To Break Out?

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Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero are teammates. What will it mean when they are partners? (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)
Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero are teammates. What will it mean when they are partners? (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)
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Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero are both scoring now. They each have an assist in 2012. What they don't have yet is that partnership, the very partnership that was the reason for the trade. A partnership is about more than each scoring. Several of Montero's "other forwards" did that. A partnership is what Nate Jaqua and Fredy had in 2009 when their interplay showed potency and baffled defenses.

A partnership is what Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper have. They connect. Their awareness of one another is preternatural. Which runs, at what time isn't a thought process, but something instinctive. It sits in that reptilian part of the brain. The passes just happen. A move simultaneous move to split defenses and open space just occurs. There may not even be a flick of eyes or wrist, nor a nod of the head. Suddenly, both break, two lanes open and the throughball is into the danger area.

Montero is going to win the Goal of the Week. EJ7 and Montero are both on the weekly Castrol Index's top performers. They are doing this while merely creating space for each other. There is little direct interaction. They are teammates, not partners.

That could be about to change. Sigi Schmid said it would be about mid-May when Johnson is integrated into the team. It's about mid-May now.

Yesterday Johnson was on with Gas of KJR-AM Seattle. It's a solid interview covering the gamut of pressure "I knew the expectations for me coming in were really demanding. As a forward you want that pressure," of shoes and of learning his teammates.

"It's not about just Rosales and Montero, it's about the whole team. If you look at the changes in the lineups throughout MLS we're one of the teams that have changed the most due to injury, but one to thirty we have a strong roster. Getting that understanding starts in practice. When you have your little two minute water breaks you can pull someone aside and tell them 'I like to make this run' or 'what run should I make?' We've been doing that over the last few weeks week-in, week-out getting that understanding with each other. It's starting to show on the weekends."

Dallas offers a particular opportunity for the pair to connect. The Toros are exhausted, short handed due to cards, short handed due to health and incredibly week on crosses. They give up a goal on a cross basically every game (pdf).

Team

Duels

Possession

Pass Completion Advantage

Shots +/-

Run of Play

Dead Ball

Seattle

53.3%

48.9%

-0.4

3.3

4

2

Toros

51.0%

44.9%

-3.6

-4.3

-8

2

How do Eddie and Fredy take advantage of that? The conventional dump-drop-pop from Mauro Rosales to EJ to Montero seems one likely path and typical and boring. If there's one thing we're learning about Johnson is that while he can score on some fairly "boring" opportunities he also likes flair.

Seattle can take advantage of that flair. Both Montero and Johnson are great with the ball at their feet. They use multi-dimensional passing. Each make quality runs out of the penalty box. When they get that ball they turn and dance. As they get beter working together, as they partner that dancing won't just be about creating space for a shot.

Instead that moment will be about a sublime pass that only a couple dozen players in MLS can make. It will be to a man that even from our perch in the TV tower we can't see, but their presence will be sensed.

Over in Gotham Henry and Cooper are on a little break. It's mid-May.

GAM and Goleador - it's time. There will be a multi-goal, multi-assist game or two or three from the partnership shortly. Tonight would be a great time for it to start.