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January 21, 2013 at 7:05 AM

It’s finally official: Fredy Montero loaned to Colombia’s Millonarios for 2013 season

montero vancouver2.jpgPhoto credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times

The goodbye is now official.

Sounders FC has loaned its all-time leading scorer, forward Fredy Montero, to Colombian league champion Millonarios for the 2013 season, a move that had been close to completion for several weeks.

Seattle signed Montero to a multi-year contract extension prior to the loan, which should see the team is compensated in the case of the 25 year old’s transfer to a big club.

“Fredy has been a fantastic player and pro for Sounders FC over our first four years,” said Adrian Hanauer, part owner and general manager, in a news release. “We wish Fredy the best of success with Millonarios as he continues to develop as a player. We hope this move helps Fredy’s chances of being called up to the Colombian National Team, as he has certainly earned it.”

Terms weren’t disclosed per team and league policy, but the deal reportedly includes a $4.5 million option to buy. Montero has already joined his new club and featured in some preseason action this past weekend.

While the impact of this loss for Sounders’ fans has probably lessened by now (initial rumors of this move date to early December), there’s no denying Montero’s immense impact on the franchise from the very start.

He scored twice in Seattle’s first game — a 3-0 home win vs. New York on March 19, 2009 — and never looked back en route to double-digit goals in all four MLS seasons. He was a three-time MLS All-Star and won MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2009.

Such production at a young age, coupled with Montero’s lifelong goals of playing abroad, made his eventual exit inevitable. Expect the Sounders to sign a DP to fill that spot on the roster before the season or over the summer (Hanauer said a while back that the team wouldn’t move a DP unless it could sign another and recently gave indications it could happen before the start of the season).

Here’s a look at Montero’s club records, some of which won’t be broken for a while:

MLS goals — 47 (next best: Steve Zakuani, 17)

MLS assists — 34 (next best: Mauro Rosales, 26)

MLS game-winners — 16 (next best: Eddie Johnson, 5)

MLS games — 119 (next best: Osvaldo Alonso, 113)

MLS shots — 411 (next best: Osvaldo Alonso, 147)

MLS shots on goal — 154 (next best: Steve Zakuani, 51)

MLS fouls suffered — 244 (next best: Osvaldo Alonso, 148)

Open Cup game-winners — 4 (next best: Osvaldo Alonso, 3)

Open Cup minutes — 1,081 (next best: Osvaldo Alonso, 1,057)

CCL goals — 6 (next best: Mike Fucito, 5)

CCL assists — 6 (next best: Alvaro Fernandez, 5)

CCL games — 18 (next best, Osvaldo Alonso and Leo Gonzalez, 16)

CCL minutes — 1,341 (next best: Osvaldo Alonso, 1,269)

CCL game-winners — 3 (next best: Alvaro Fernandez and Mike Fucito, 2)

Goals in all comps. — 60 (next best, Zakuani, 19)

Assist in all comps. — 43 (next best Rosales, 29)

Game-winners in all comps. — 23 (next best Osvaldo Alonso, 7)

Games in all comps. — 160 (next best: Osvaldo Alonso, 151)

Starts in all comps. — 145 (next best: Osvaldo Alonso, 142)

Montero’s move to Millonarios could help in regard to a couple of his career objectives — 1) featuring more for the Colombian national team, as Hanauer noted, 2) transferring to a team in Europe, a goal he mentioned in his very first interview as a Sounder.

In Colombia, he’ll be much closer to the national team and the eye of coach Jose Pekerman. For Millonarios, he’ll be participating in the prestigious Copa Libertadores this year; it’s a Champions League-type tournament for all the best club teams in South America, and scouts from around the world will be watching.

We’ll have to wait and see how Montero does, of course.

As a little bit of trivia, Montero’s last goal for the Sounders was the team’s third in a 3-0 home win against rival Portland on Oct. 7, 2012.

That, of course, means that he didn’t score a postseason, and his 10-game drought in the MLS playoffs will assuredly be the black mark on his Seattle stay — not to mention being subbed out first in each conference final game against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Despite that end, Montero has given a positive vibe regarding his relationship with the Sounders recently, both in his goodbye message to fans and through his agent. In particular, he gave indications he could be back (something I took as meaning later in his career, not at the end of this loan necessarily).

Lastly, here’s a brief timeline of Montero’s stay with the Sounders…

Jan. 21, 2009 — Signed on loan from Deportivo Cali

Mar. 19, 2009 — Scores twice in franchise opener

Nov. 10, 2009 — Named MLS Newcomer of the Year

Dec. 1, 2010 — Re-signed as designated player, transfer completed

Oct. 13, 2011 — Named U.S. Open Cup Player of the Tournament

Aug. 25, 2012 — Records fourth hat-trick in club history at Chivas USA

Jan. 4, 2013 — Loan to Colombia’s Millonarios first reported

Jan. 21, 2013 — Loan deal finalized

* * *

Any thoughts now that it’s official?

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