Manuel Veth –
Vancouver Whitecaps have signed Fredy Montero on loan from the Chinese Super League club Tianjin TEDA FC. Montero will take one of Vancouver’s designated player positions.
The Whitecaps hope that, in Fredy Montero, the club has finally found a consistent striker. Vancouver, which is more often than not associated with the NHL franchise, Vancouver Canucks, has often been described as a goalkeeper’s graveyard due to the Canucks’ inability to find a suitable solution between the posts.
In terms of soccer, however, Vancouver could very well be described as a striker’s graveyard. The list of forwards who have been part of the Whitecaps is long and, for one reason or another, it has always ended in tears.
Vancouver is a bit of a striker’s graveyard
Whether it was Eric Hassli, Camilo Sanvezzo, or Octavio Rivero, for each there were signs that Vancouver had found the perfect man up front, but this early optimism was followed by disappointment. Hassli was, of course, the first major signing by the Whitecaps but, after scoring some magnificent goals, Hassli failed to live up to the billing and was traded to Toronto FC.
Next came the Brazilian, Camilo. The Brazilian managed 39 goals in 92 games for the Whitecaps including 22 goals in the 2013 season. The Whitecaps failed to retain the Brazilian striker after a big money contract offer came in from the Liga MX side Querétaro FC.
It was not for the lack of trying, however, as the Whitecaps refused to accept the Brazilian’s transfer at first. But Camilo was already training with his new club despite the fact that the Whitecaps had not yet agreed to a transfer and, thus forced the MLS team to accept a deal.
Up next came Octavio Rivero. Signed from the Chilean club, O’Higgins, Rivero had a good start in MLS. But in his second season the goal scoring touch was gone, and Rivero headed back to Chile to join Colo-Colo.
The Whitecaps have also tried to fill the role with internal options, but the likes of 2013 draft pick Erik Hurtado have failed to fulfil their promise. It is, therefore, no surprise that the forward line has been the biggest point of complaint among Whitecaps supporters.
Fredy Montero will have to fill a major need at the Whitecaps
The rumblings did not stop when the club signed the promising, but young and inexperienced forward, Yordy Reyna, from Red Bull Salzburg. Reyna certainly has the talent to become a good player at some point, but currently might not be the type of player that can guarantee goals.
With Fredy Montero, the Whitecaps may have, however, now filled that role. The Colombian forward has shown, at various levels, that he can find the net. Whitecaps fans will in fact remember Montero well from his time with Cascadia rivals, Seattle Sounders, where he is the club’s top scorer with 60 goals scored in Major League Soccer between 2009 and 2014.
Simon Edwards an expert on Colombian football for the World Football Index – South American Football Show points out that he was a real star for Seattle: “He was very popular in the US but, despite this, moved back to Colombia in 2013.”
Back in Colombia, he somehow struggled to replicate his Major League Soccer performances, and soon left the club, this time for the Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon. Edwards points out that, in Portugal, Fredy Montero did well: “He scored 13 goals in 16 games while being on loan in Portugal, and they signed him on a permanent deal at the end of the season.”
What followed was 51 games for Sporting, in which he scored another 14 goals. It was solid numbers in one of the more competitive leagues in Europe. Furthermore, Montero also got a taste of UEFA Champions League football.
With the emergence of the Chinese Super League Fredy Montero was targeted by several Chinese Super League clubs. In February 2016 Tianjin TEDA offered him a big money move, and signed him for €5 million. In China, he scored nine goals in 29 games. But, as Edwards pointed out, “He did not really like it there.”
Fredy Montero wanted to return to North America
According to Edwards, Montero, in fact, voiced his desire to move back to North America: “He got permanent residency in the United States, and he wanted to move back since the whole situation in China didn’t work out.” Montero could, therefore, decide to take up residency in the US enclave at Point Roberts, which is also the home of his new teammate Kekuta Manneh.
Fredy Montero also hopes that playing in Major League Soccer will give him a better shot at playing for the Colombian national team. In fact, he has been on the fringe of Colombia’s national team for some time now. He has played for his country on four occasions, but has not been featured since 2009.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) February 15, 2017
Vancouver Whitecaps supporters can, therefore, expect a striker who will be motivated to show that he can still be an asset for the Colombian national team. Furthermore, because he was signed on loan from Tianjin, Montero will have to justify a permanent deal in his first season with the Whitecaps.
According to Edwards, Whitecaps supporters can look forward to a forward who could finally become a long term solution up front: “He is a technically good player, a very nice finisher, [and has a] decent pace, but he isn’t explosively quick or particularly strong. Good movement, and pretty intelligent.”
Montero, therefore, could be the missing piece between the quick wing players that the Whitecaps have assembled over the last few years. In fact, the one key element that has always been missing is a guy who can finish the play. Perhaps Montero is the solution to this problem.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, and podcaster for WorldFootballIndex.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States”, which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @homosovieticus.