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    MLS Features: Montero's void proving difficult to fill for Sounders

    10:02 AM, Apr 18, 2013   |    comments
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    Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Seattle Sounders find themselves in a bit of unfamiliar territory.

    Through the first five matches of the season, Seattle is 0-3-2 with just two points as they sit in the basement of the Major League Soccer standings.

    Now in their fifth season in MLS, Seattle has made the postseason every year and has never started a season this poorly.

    Last Saturday's match against the New England Revolution at CenturyLink Field represented a prime opportunity for the Rave Green to finally take three points and jump start their season. But the result, a 0-0 stalemate, left many scratching their heads as to what has happened to the once mighty Sounders.

    Head coach Sigi Schmid believes his team will come around.

    "We have to keep working on it," he told the league's official website following Monday's training session. "We just wanted to do something close to goal, work on finishing, get some patterns in. We have to continue to work on these things until the ice breaks."

    Schmid's team certainly could use the practice when it comes to finishing chances as the Sounders have scored just two goals all season.

    Injuries have taken an early toll as forwards Eddie Johnson, David Estrada and Obafemi Martins and midfielder Brad Evans have each missed two league games -- something Schmid believes has contributed to his club's subpar start.

    "You can't say once those guys come back, all our problems are solved," Schmid admitted. "We haven't had a chance to work on any of these combinations with the whole group. We've had to mix the lineup up all the time. We haven't had any consistency."

    Some observers may view those remarks from the Seattle boss as excuses, but there is one player missing this season whose absence is being felt much more than the Seattle front office or coaching staff will let on.

    Colombian striker Fredy Montero.

    Montero left the Sounders prior to the start of the season when he was sent on a season-long loan to Colombian club Millonarios in hopes of making an impression on Colombian National squad coach Jose Pekerman ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

    Montero arrived in Seattle ahead of the club's 2009 inaugural season from Colombian side Deportivo Cali and quickly became one of the most impactful players on the squad.

    Over his four seasons in the Emerald City, Montero is the club's all-time leading scorer with 47 goals in league play - the third-most goals in MLS since 2009.

    He also notched 60 goals with 43 assists in all competitions to lead the team and had a knack for finding clutch goals for his team -- recording 23 game- winning goals and 12 game-winning assists in all competitions.

    Montero was the one player on the pitch who the opposition always needed to pay attention to, the type of player who could turn a broken play into a goal very quickly. But with that type of threat gone, the Sounders offense is struggling mightily.

    Martins, 28, was brought in from La Liga side Levante and has significant experience in Europe with Inter Milan, Newcastle United, Wolfsburg and Russia's Rubin Kazan.

    He also was given the club's third Designated Player tag, a title which comes with much more pressure to perform and even higher expectations from fans and the front office.

    The Nigerian attacker played 20 minutes in his first appearance with the club -- a 1-1 draw on March 16 against the Portland Timbers -- as well as 90 minutes against Real Salt Lake on March 30, but has recently been sidelined with a knee injury.

    Martins is the type of player who is capable of putting up offensive numbers similar to that of Montero, but for that to occur, he needs to get healthy and find his form quickly.

    He will certainly give his club a boost if he is able to suit up for Saturday's match against the Colorado Rapids, a team against which Seattle is perfectly capable of securing three points.

    For now, however, the Sounders are finding Montero's void extremely difficult to fill.

    The Sports Network

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