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Fredy Montero rejoins Sounders

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Sounders officially announce the return of their first MLS star.

Sporting CP v Vorskla Poltava - UEFA Europa League - Group E Photo by Carlos Palma/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One of the most talented players to ever suit up for the Seattle Sounders is officially back for an encore performance, the team announced on Thursday. Unlike his first stint with the Sounders, Fredy Montero will likely be allowed to play more of a supporting role.

Montero was a free agent after spending the last two years as a Designated Player with the Vancouver Whitecaps, scoring 13 goals and adding 8 assists in about 3,100 minutes. Although salary details weren’t released, it’s believed that he’ll be on a much more team-friendly deal. The contract has one guaranteed year and two option years.

Although Montero last played for the Sounders in 2012 — capping off a four-year run in which he scored a still-franchise record 60 goals across all competitions — he’s maintained strong ties to the area. He’s married to a local woman, still has strong family ties here, maintains a home in the area and even owns a coffee shop in the Ravenna neighborhood.

“Fredy is a prolific forward who’s proven himself in MLS and abroad, in addition to still holding a number of club records here,” Sounders General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a team release. “When good players return to Seattle, it speaks to the strong culture that we’ve built. I’m looking forward to bringing him into the group and seeing what he can contribute to our attack.”

Since last playing for the Sounders, Montero has traveled all over the globe. After a brief stint in Colombia with Millonarios, he went to Portugal and spent three years with Sporting CP before moving to China. Montero then returned to MLS, where he played one year with the Whitecaps in 2017 before going back to Sporting CP for two seasons and then returning to the Whitecaps again. Through all the moves, Montero maintained a reasonable level of production, contributing at least 10 combined goals and assists in 6 of 9 seasons.

“I have a lot of fond memories of Fredy Montero in a Sounders jersey, and I’m pleased to welcome him back to the club,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said in a team release. “He has always been a dynamic attacker with a strong finishing touch. I’m always happy to have players that can score goals and am looking forward to getting him on the training pitch as our 2021 preparations ramp up.”

Bringing back Montero isn’t just a feel-good story. In addition to continuing to be a dangerous player in and around the penalty area, he’s arguably the top passing forward in the league even at 33. According to FBRef.com, his most comparable player is New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bau and Montero ranks in the 95th percentile or better in a host of key passing metrics.

Montero’s arrival could also hint at a formation change, with Lagerwey and Schmetzer both suggesting they could explore using a two-forward set more often.

Even if Montero is only third on the depth chart, there will likely be ample playing opportunities. Raúl Ruidíaz is likely to be called into international duty several times throughout the year and the still-unreleased-schedule is expected to be as congested as it ever has been, with the league needing to find a way to schedule 34 regular-season games alongside at least three different tournaments in about seven months.