Monday, March 21, 2011

SOUNDERS FC: Has Freddy Montero driven away other Sounders?

First and foremost, let me tell you why I’m writing about Fredy Montero’s possible problem with other Sounders players. One of my favorite things to do is get into sports arguments with a certain Microsoft wizard who doesn't want his name dropped. It’s one of the things where whenever I see him, I just have to start arguing about the Sounders.

We recently got in an argument about Fredy Montero. He believes that Montero is the main reason why Freddie Ljungberg, Blaise Nkufo, and Sebastian Le Toux are gone. He believes that Montero’s apparent selfish play had driven those three crazy, which ultimately led them to the point of wanting to leave the team. I can see why he would think this, and the situation is odd in the respect of it being a pattern the last couple of years. And to not single out this certain Microsoft dude, many Sounders fans have the same belief… Montero is a poison within the team.

To Continue...

Let’s get back to the original question. Is Montero the main reason why Ljungberg, Nkufo, and Letoux are gone? Each one of these former Sounders has a unique story on why they left…

Sebastian Le Toux’s situation: Known for being tireless on the field and for his heroics in Sounders FC's run to the U.S. Open Cup title two years ago — he scored three goals in the club's six tournament games — Le Toux was also a fan favorite and very visible in the local soccer community. He lives on Whidbey Island and runs a soccer academy.

Le Toux’s Open cup success didn't completely transfer over to the 2009 MLS regular season. He appeared in 28 regular-season games, starting 15, with one goal scored and three assists. Always a forward with the USL club, he had to transition to being midfield winger for Sounders FC.

Whenever a new team is brought into the MLS, something happens called an expansion draft. Every team has a chance to “protect” 11 of its players, and if a player is not protected, the new expansion team has the option to pick the player up.

So then, the expansion Philadelphia Union, picked Le Toux in the expansion draft. Le Toux was one of 10 players — from 10 different MLS teams — selected by Philadelphia coach Peter Nowak and staff as it built its roster for the 2010 season.

"With expansion comes the unfortunate consequence that you're likely going to lose someone," Sounders coach Sigi Schimd said when Le Toux got taken. "Seba is a quality player, and it's understandable that Philadelphia valued his abilities and brought him aboard.

"We're sad to see him go, but we wish him the best with this opportunity in Philadelphia."

Here’s a statement by Le Toux after he heard the news. "No disrespect to Philly, but obviously I've been a journeyman and thought I had the best year of my career here," said Riley. "Seattle fans can respect a guy who just goes about his business."

Freddie Ljungberg’s situation: Ah, Freddie. A fan favorite before 2009, but now generally frowned upon by Sounders fans. His departure was more on his terms, rather than the Sounders. Ljungberg’s departure was much more controversial than Le Toux’s, as the Sounders kept him out of a couple games during the 2010 regular season. It eventually got to the point where he was training separately from the team.

Shortly after these events the Sounders proceeded to trade the troubled Swede to the Chicago Fire in exchange for a couple of draft picks. Ljungberg finished out the season with Chicago, and then signed with the Scottish league participant Celtic FC for the 2011 season.

He scored zero goals with 3 assists in 15 matches for the Sounders in 2010

Blaise Nkufo’s situation: This departure is a tad like Ljungberg’s. The details of this break up weren't exactly clear, but a source told KIRO (97.3 FM) radio, Sounders FC's radio partner, that Nkufo was unhappy with the style coach Sigi Schmid asked him to play and had lobbied for a trade.

The Switzerland national star joined the Sounders right after the World Cup last year, and was set to be the starting forward behind Freddie Montero. Regardless of any disagreement, Nkufo was expected to retire after the 2011 season.

“They wanted Nkufo to push up in front, push and shove, throw some elbows, receive the ball with his back to the defenders, lay off the ball to the wingers or to Montero,” said one observer familiar with the matter, who did not want to be identified. “Nkufo didn’t want to do the dirty work. I don’t think Sigi is asking too much of the player to play up front, hold the ball, win headers, get on the end of crosses.”

The source, a former pro, said it was understandable that Nkufo, at his age, might not want to do that.

“Nkufo seems like a gentlemanly old fashioned center forward,” he said. “He’s a nice a guy off the field, and plays like a nice guy on the field. He probably doesn’t want to mix it up at his age.”

What do you think? Is the Microsoft Wizard right? Is Fredy Montero’s apparent erratic play to blame for these departures? Personally, I think Montero’s play had something to do with the departures, especially in Ljungberg’s case, but he was not the main reason they left.

Leave your response below.

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