Seattle Sounders FC: Fredy Montero Finds His Form with Playoffs on the Horizon

Sean BabcockCorrespondent IIOctober 1, 2011

VANCOUVER, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 24: Fredy Montero #17 of the Seattle Sounders during their game against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Stadium September 24, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. The Seattle Sounders  won 3-1. (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images)
Nick Didlick/Getty Images

With the end of the MLS regular season beginning to draw near, the Seattle Sounders' designated player at the striker position, Fredy Montero, is finally beginning to find his groove—only 31 games into the season with three left to be played.

Just two weeks ago, Montero was suffering through the most underwhelming season of his career thus far, with only seven goals to his name and a frustrated fanbase constantly criticizing everything he did as a result. He led the league in shots taken and shots on goal for most of the 2011 campaign, but simply found himself unable to capitalize on his opportunities.

Luckily for Seattle, the Sounders have found goals from the feet of many other rave-green players. Fourteen different Sounders, in fact, have scored to help the Sounders achieve the most successful regularly season in their history so far, despite Montero's slumping production.

Thanks to the club's overall success, one would expect the Colombian striker to mostly find himself free of criticism for his own performances on the pitch. But an executive decision from Seattle's managing bodies prior to the season naming Fredy Montero as one of the club's highest-paid presences in the lineup have made his failings nearly unforgivable in the eyes of so many supporters.

But anybody hearing those complaints for the first time now, following his last two matches on the road for Seattle in Major League Soccer, would be sure to ask one glaring question of the nature of the criticisms: what failings exactly are these Seattle fans talking about?

Fredy Montero has scored in his last two MLS matches, bringing his goal total from a career-low seven goals in a season, up to an impressive 11, tying the second best total of his career.

While some supporters may prefer that such production be spread out throughout the course of a season, there can be little doubt that right now is the most ideal time for Montero to come into form for Seattle. This increase in productivity is crucial with the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final to be played in just three days time, and the MLS playoffs just a few weeks away.

Suddenly, Seattle finds itself, for the first time in it's three-year history in the league, seemingly in possession of the most ideal recipe for playoff success they could possibly hope for.

Fourteen different players capable of finding the back of the net? Check.

Incredible offensive momentum in three different competitions as the post-season draws near? Check.

Unbelievable cohesion between a wide selection of skillful and talented players, creating a depth that is almost unrivaled in the Major League Soccer? Check.

Finally, now the Sounders once again boast one of the most feared (and in form) strikers in North America.

MLS rivals take note: the Sounders are officially in the playoffs and there's little indication that knockout-style football will be the club's demise.

All roads to the MLS Cup, as scary as it may be, go through Seattle.