A little over a year ago, I wrote an article about Sounders in foreign league called "Rave Green Diplomats". The idea was to do periodic updates on how Sounders who have left the team are performing in foreign leagues. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to follow up on it then, but I hope to make this a recurring series. With that being said, let's get reacquainted with some of our former players.
Fredy Montero, Sporting Clube de Portugal
Let's not kid ourselves. At least until January, Fredy is the former Sounder whose career we're most closely following. Why? Because he's still the most talented former Sounder and is playing for a higher profile foreign team than any other player who has ever put on a rave green kit.
He also happens to be the first Sounders FC player to participate in UEFA Champions League after leaving Seattle. Midway through the group stage, Sporting is at the bottom of the group with 1 point. Although it isn't looking good for the team to advance to the knockout stage of Champions League, Sporting is only 1 point behind Maribor for third place, which would qualify them for the knockout stage of Europa League. It's entirely possible that we could see Fredy Montero facing DeAndre Yedlin in a few months in European continental competition. Who would've predicted that a year or two ago?
Montero recently ended a scoring slump dating back to last December with a goal in a 4-0 win over Penafiel. He followed that up last weekend with a goal in the 66th minute to seal a 4-2 win over Marítimo. Those 2 goals in 339 league minutes over 7 appearances give him a respectable 0.53 goals per 90 average.
His most recent goal is definitely worth another look:
|Sporting||2014/15||Portuguese Primeira Liga||339||7||2|
|Sporting||2014/15||UEFA Champions League||74||3||0|
|Sporting||2014/15||Taça de Portugal||30||1||0|
|Sporting||2013/14||Portuguese Primeira Liga||2023||29||13|
|Sporting||2013/14||Taça de Portugal||120||1||0|
|Sporting||2013/14||Taça de Liga||117||2||0|
|Millonarios||2013||Colombian Primera A||1673||22||8|
|Millonarios||2013||Colombian Super Cup||90||2||0|
Adam Johansson, IFK Göteborg (Sweden)
Since the Sounders released Adam Johansson to make room on the first team for DeAndre Yedlin, our favorite Swedish fullback returned to his former club and helped them third in the league last year and second in the league this year. Johansson is part of a back line that has only conceded 64 goals in 60 matches over the past two seasons in Allsvenskan. He also helped Göteborg win the 2012/13 Svenska Cupen less than 2 months after being let go by the Sounders last year. He finished the 2014 Allsvenskan season with 2 assists in 1,334 minutes over 15 appearances.
Here's a a video highlighting some of the best plays Johansson has made since returning to Sweden:
|IFK Göteborg||2014/15||UEFA Europa League||407||6||0|
|IFK Göteborg||2014/15||Svenska Cupen||83||1||0|
|IFK Göteborg||2014||Swedish Allsvenskan||1334||15||0|
|Sweden||2014||UEFA World Cup Qualification||116||2||0|
|IFK Göteborg||2013/14||UEFA Europa League||174||2||0|
|IFK Göteborg||2013/14||Svenska Cupen||180||2||0|
|IFK Göteborg||2013||Swedish Allsvenskan||2319||27||0|
|IFK Göteborg||2013||Swedish Super Cup||90||1||0|
|IFK Göteborg||2012/13||Svenska Cupen||210||2||0|
Michael Gspurning, Platanias (Greece)
Although he was in talks with New York City FC in August, Gspurning wound up returning to the Greek Super League last month with Platanias FC. Although he hasn't yet appeared in a match with his new club, he was on the bench in their two most recent matches. Because his contract runs out at the end of December, it's still possible that Gspurning returns to MLS in 2015.
|PAOK Thessaloniki||2013/14||Greek Super League||90||1||3|
Erik Friberg, Bologna FC (Italy)
Friberg's situation might be the most disappointing to Sounders fans. If he had stayed at Malmö in January instead of transferring to Bologna, he would probably be participating in UEFA Champions League right now, where his former club is competing in Group A with Olympiacos, Atlético Madrid, and Juventus. Instead, Friberg has yet to make an appearance in Serie B. Even worse, he hasn't even been included on the bench in any match this season, and that's in a league that allows each team to name 9 players to its bench.
According to this article (in Swedish, Google Translate version here), Friberg isn't even registered to play in Serie B right now, but his agent thinks he could switch clubs in January. He says that there are options in the "Nordic market", but he doesn't close the door on other teams. Could this be an opening for Friberg to return to the Sounders?
|Bologna||2014/15||Italian Serie B||0||0||0|
|Bologna||2013/14||Italian Serie A||422||7||0|
|Malmö||2013/14||UEFA Europa League||290||6||0|
|Malmö||2013||Swedish Super Cup||15||1||0|
Christian Sivebæk, Vejle Boldklub (Denmark)
Sivebæk is currently in his third season in Denmark's First Division (which is actually the second level in the country's league system) since leaving the Sounders in the middle of of the 2012 MLS season. Vejle was Sivebæk's youth club before he moved to FC Midtjylland's academy in 2004. It's also the first club of his father, Danish legend John Sivebæk. Although the club came just 4 points away from promotion to the Superliga in the first season, Vejle has been a middle of the table team since then. Perhaps part of that is due to the fact that the club split into 2 clubs after the 2012/13 season.
Ironically enough, Sivebæk's production has actually improved significantly since his team became a middle of the table club. In the past season and a half, he has scored 7 goals in 1,773 minutes in league play over 32 appearances.
Here are some brief highlights from a match last month in which Sivebæk scored his most recent goal:
|Vejle||2014/15||Danish First Division||896||12||3|
|Vejle||2013/14||Danish First Division||877||20||4|
|Vejle-Kolding||2012/13||Danish First Division||975||17||0|
Christian Tiffert, Free Agent
Tiffert has been without a club since the end of the 2. Bundesliga season this spring. Last season, he logged 1,888 league minutes in 24 appearances with VfL Bochum. Given that, it's pretty surprising that he still hasn't signed with another club yet. His absence is notable enough that German site Spox.com named him to its best 11 of unattached Bundesliga players earlier this month.
Mario Martinez, Barcelona Sporting Club (Ecuador)
Martinez will probably always be remembered for scoring the goal that won a playoff series for the first time in Sounders FC history, but for most of his time with the team, he never seemed to get enough time in Seattle to really settle in to the first team. Around this time last year, he hinted that he might be close to signing with the Sounders, but if that was close to happening, it never came to fruition. Instead, he transferred to a club in Ecuador at the end of July that most American fans are unfamiliar with, even if its name is very familiar.
Barcelona SC was involved in this year's Copa Sudamericana, which is sort of like South America's version of Europa League (although there is no group stage). It was eliminated in the second round of the tournament last month by Paraguayan club Liberdad after defeating Peru's Alianza Lima in the first round. Martinez appeared in 3 of his club's 4 matches in the tournament, logging 169 minutes and providing 1 assist. The only match his club lost was the one in which he didn't appear.
Barcelona currently sits at the top of the table in Ecuador's Primera A in the second stage after finishing 4th in the first stage. This weekend, it faces Independiente del Valle, the team currently in second place. Although Barcelona has a 4 point lead, Independiente has a game in hand. The winner of the league title (determined by cumulative record in both stages of the season) is qualified for the second stage of the 2015 Copa Libertadores, while the second and third place teams qualify for the first stage of the tournament. Martinez currently has 1 goal in 546 league minutes over 11 appearances. It's unclear how many (if any) assists he has in league play, because it does not appear that the league tracks assists.
With the Honduras national team, Martinez managed to proved the game-tying assist against the United States earlier this month after coming off the bench. He also came off the bench in the 2-0 loss to Mexico. Last month, he logged 150 minutes in 2 appearances in the Copa Centroamericana, where Honduras finished 5th. It will play the 5th place team from the Caribbean Cup for a spot in the 2015 Gold Cup.
Martinez may have left MLS, but he recently showed why he's one of the few players who has Nick Rimando's number:
|Barcelona SC||2014||Ecuadorian Primera A||546||11||1|
|Barcelona SC||2014||Copa Sudamericana||169||3||0|
|Real España||2013/14||Honduran Liga Nacional||2547||35||7|
Álvaro Fernández, Gimnasia La Plata (Argentina)
For the first time since he was traded from the Sounders to the Chicago Fire to make room for Christian Tiffert, Flaco has gone through an entire calendar year with one club. In the second half of Argentina's 2013/14 Primera A season, Fernández scored 2 goals in 1,018 league minutes across 12 appearances, all of which were starts. In the 2014 Torneo de Transición (the name indicates a coming change in the league's format), Flaco has 1 goal in 927 minutes over 11 appearances, all starts. Gimnasia is currently 13th in the league table after finishing 5th if the Torneo Final in the spring.
Like Mario Martinez, Flaco's team participated in this year's Copa Sudamericana and like Barcelona, Gimnasia was eliminated in the second stage. Flaco's team was eliminated by fellow Argentine club Estudiantes. Fernández played every minute of the 2 leg series in a 1-0 aggregate defeat.
Here's a nice header Fernández scored against San Lorenzo a few weeks ago:
|Gimnasia La Plata||2014||Argentine Primera División||927||11||1|
|Gimnasia La Plata||2014||Copa Sudamericana||180||2||0|
|Uruguay||2014||CONMEBOL World Cup Qualification||24||1||0|
|Gimnasia La Plata||2013/14||Argentine Primera División||1018||12||2|
|Gimnasia La Plata||2013/14||Copa Argentina||90||1||0|
|Nacional||2013/14||Uruguayan Primera División||1105||14||0|
|Al Rayyan||2013||AFC Champions League||450||5||0|
|Al Rayyan||2012/13||Qatari Stars League||404||5||0|
Miguel Montaño, Quilmes (Argentina)
It's been a tough road for Montaño since leaving MLS. He's only just now starting to see significant playing time with the first team in a top flight league. In the 2012/13 season, he saw a total of 58 minutes in Colombia's Primera A. He then spent the second half of the year in 2013 with Uniautónoma in Primera B, Colombia's second division, where he scored 1 goal in 369 minutes over 11 appearances, helping the club win the division and promotion to Primera A. Then, for the first half of 2014, he didn't appear to even be attached to a club. He wound up returning to Quilmes (the club from which the Sounders signed him) in July.
Prior to this month, Montaño only had one league appearance at the end of August in a 3-0 loss. On the 18th, he came off the bench against Atlético Rafaela and played the final 16 minutes of a 0-0 draw. Last weekend, he was given his first start in a top flight league in nearly 2 1/2 years. Unfortunately for him, he was sent off in the 46th minute after picking up his second yellow card. In a bit of a crazy stat, Montaño has 5 career yellow cards in league play, with 2 of them being second yellows leading to a red card, in addition to the straight red card he received while playing for the Sounders.
Although Montaño hasn't scored a goal yet this season, he made a nice play that was nearly an assist 2 weeks ago:
|Quilmes||2014||Argentine Premia División||106||3||0|
|Uniautónoma||2013||Colombian Primera B||369||11||1|
|Cúcuta Deportivo||2013||Colombian Primera A||49||2||0|
|Cúcuta Deportivo||2013||Copa Colombia||393||6||0|
|Deportivo Cali||2012||Colombian Primera A||9||1||0|
Freddie Ljungberg, Mumbai City (India)
The first ever Sounders DP has unretired to help launch the Indian Super League, which is operated in a way similar to MLS. There is no promotion or relegation, and the teams are franchises of the single entity league. The first season will only last for 3 months, which is probably helped attract players like Ljungberg. In his first two games, he has logged 65 minutes.
|Mumbai City||2014||Indian Super League||65||2||0|
|Shimizu S-Pulse||2011||Japanese J1 League||521||8||0|
|Shimizu S-Pulse||2011||J-League Cup||72||2||0|
|Celtic||2010/11||Scottish Premier League||155||7||0|