Sounders begin '13 season without Fredy Montero

Sounders begin '13 season without Fredy Montero

TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) When the Seattle Sounders FC opened training camp on Monday morning, the most prolific goal scorer in the short history of the club was in Colombia - where he'll be for at least a year.

The Sounders completed their long awaited loan of striker Fredy Montero to Millonarios FC of the Colombian first division just before training camp began. It was a drawn out process that took a few weeks and included a new wrinkle when the Sounders signed Montero to a multi-year extension, giving the team and player an opportunity to reunite in the future.

But for now, the Sounders are moving on minus the player that scored the first goal in franchise history, along with 59 others during his four seasons in Seattle.

``Fredy's been a very important player to this team,'' Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. ``We've got to see what we can do in terms of replacing him. We're still looking at player options. I think we have some options within our squad.''

Part of the loan went beyond shaking up Seattle's roster or opening up a designated player spot for the Sounders to try and make another high-profile signing. With the World Cup in Brazil just over a year away, the move of Montero back to a Colombian club could increase his chances of being included in the pool of players being considered for the national team.

Schmid and general manager Adrian Hanauer both indicated that Montero's national team status took a hit while he was playing in the MLS.

``We think it gives him a chance to maybe be a little closer to the national team pool. It gets him a possibility of hopefully being seen and back on the roster or on the radar there,'' Hanauer said. ``And it was just something we had talked about. Fredy had wanted to try something new; we'd talked to him about that over the years.''

Montero was often maligned for his lack of production in the playoffs but his regular season performances were the basis for much of Seattle's success as a young franchise. He helped lead Seattle to three straight U.S. Open Cup titles and last season scored a career-high 13 goals in MLS play.

The departure of Montero leaves the Sounders with only six players remaining on their roster from the first season in 2009: defenders Zack Scott, Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado; and midfielders Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso and Steve Zakuani.

``It's crazy, but that's the way it is. Every team lost players, every team brought in players, and we've done the same,'' Zakuani said. ``We have to trust the management, they know what they're doing, and like I said, we're all pulling in the same direction trying to achieve our goal to win the whole thing this year and make the moves that's right for them and right for this club.''

Much of Seattle's training camp will be spent trying to find the pieces to pick up for Montero's production. The Sounders do get a full season with striker Eddie Johnson, who is currently in training camp for the U.S. national team. Johnson led Seattle with 14 goals last season, despite missing time with injuries and on national team duty. Other in-house options include Mauro Rosales, David Estrada and Sammy Ochoa.

Then there is Zakuani, who is at full strength for the first time in nearly two years, since breaking a leg in April 2011 against Colorado. Zakuani spent much of last year trying to return to full strength and said Monday he feels the best he has in his professional career.

``We have to find a way to spread his goals around for the team. That's what we've got to do,'' Zakuani said. ``Part of my game is trying to chip in and help the team with goals when I can so I'll work hard on that and try to be a force in that sense.''

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How the Caps turned a sure loss into their first home win in under 90 seconds

How the Caps turned a sure loss into their first home win in under 90 seconds

WASHINGTON -- Another sloppy defensive performance looked like it would doom the Capitals, but a furious three-goal rally in the second period turned what looked like a sure defeat into a stunning 4-3 victory, their first at home this season, over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

Toronto took an early lead off a short-handed goal from Kasperi Kapanen. Jonas Siegenthaler then was slow to react to a streaking Ilya Mikheyev who torched him to put the Leafs up 2-0. Jakub Vrana made it 2-1 late in the first, but Toronto looked like they had this game well in hand.

But the Caps rallied and completely turned things around in a stretch of just 1:18 in the second period. Here's how.

Brilliant skating by Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov passed the puck up to the offensive blue line. A skating Carl Hagelin tapped it to John Carlson who entered the zone, pulled back and handed it off to Kuznetsov who took over.

When Kuznetsov gets the puck there are three Maple Leaf players in front of him. He pumps the legs once and then glides in on net and somehow he is behind all three players and in alone on Michael Hutchinson.

Kuznetsov’s speed virtually never changes during the play. There’s no frantic, choppy acceleration, just a smooth glide that allows him to skate in, wait out Hutchinson and tuck the puck around his outstretched pad all in seemingly one fluid motion.

The forecheck pays off 11 seconds later

T.J. Oshie beat out Morgan Rielly in a footrace for the puck in the offensive zone. He circled in the corner to protect the puck with his body from Rielly. He was able to find Nicklas Backstrom in the high slot and Backstrom snapped the puck in.

In a period of just 11 seconds, the Caps had changed the score from 2-1 Leafs to 3-2 Caps.

The flustered Leafs

Momentum is a real thing. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. That was on display in the second period when the Leafs were on their heels after coughing up two quick goals. Just 18 seconds after Backstrom’s goal, Nicholas SHore was called for interference on Oshie.

Do you know how you get two goals and draw an interference penalty in less than a minute? By keeping possession of the puck. Toronto could not get its hands on it at all until Cocy Ceci did on the penalty kill...and promptly threw the puck into the crowd on an attempted clearance from the defensive zone resulting in a delay of game penalty.

A 5-on-3

Ceci’s penalty came just nine seconds after Shore was booked resulting in a two-man advantage for 1:51. The Caps were too hot at that point to not convert. The power play moved the puck very effectively and, critically, managed to retain possession after every shot. The Leafs just could not get there in time to clear it allowing the Caps to take their time, set things up and attack.

The power play shifted with Carlson making his way over to the Ovechkin spot. Ovechkin was fed the puck at the point, faked the slap shot and instead tapped the pass over to Carlson. Carlson did his best Ovechkin impression and fired the one-timer past Hutchinson. That goal made the score 4-2 and capped off an incredible 1:18 stretch in which the Caps turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead, thus ultimately snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Toronto would score a late goal in a comeback attempt but ultimately fell short.


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Capitals score three goals in 90 seconds to take the lead over Toronto

Capitals score three goals in 90 seconds to take the lead over Toronto

The beginning of Wednesday's clash with the Maple Leafs was not pretty for the Capitals.

A pair of goals by Toronto gave them an early lead midway through the first period. But a snipe by Jakub Vrana towards the end of the first frame cut the deficit in half entering the first intermission.

But during the second period, all of a sudden, a switch flipped for the Capitals attack. Washington found the back of the net three times in under 90 seconds, turning a one-goal deficit into a two-goal lead.

The first came from Evgeny Kuznetsov, who finished with a beautiful move to sneak the puck past Maple Leafs' goalie Michael Hutchinson's glove.

Just 11 seconds later, Nicklas Backstrom found the back of the net on a beautiful wrister from T.J. Oshie to put the Capitals ahead.

To complete the trifecta, John Carlson's one-timer from Alex Ovechkin went right in between Hutchinson's legs, giving the Capitals a 4-2 lead. 

At the end of the second period, the Capitals hold the same 4-2 lead. Just 20 minutes separate the Capitals from their fourth victory of the season.