Is this a blow for image of MLS?
Getting into the Colombian squad is no easy task at the moment, with Los Cafeteros playing at a level that hasn't been seen since the early 90s. Ranked number four in the FIFA Rankings, Colombia is many pundits' dark horse for next summer.
One of the reasons the team has been in such great form is because of a potent forward line featuring the likes of Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Teófilo Gutiérrez (River Plate), Jackson Martínez (Porto), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla) and Carlos Quintero (Santos Laguna). You'd think that striking prowess would be enough for Colombia manager Jose Pékerman, but numerous reports suggest that the 64-year-old is considering bringing Freddy Montero to Brazil.
NBC Sports reported that the Seattle Sounders striker who is currently on loan at Sporting Lisbon in Portugal has piqued Pékerman's interest. Since arriving at Sporting in July, Montero has scored nine league goals in as many matches.
Although playing time may be hard to come by with Falcao starting with Gutiérrez and Martinez, Montero's inclusion in the Colombian squad would be huge for the player who has flirted with international stardom. Although he scored nearly 50 goals for the Sounders, he never took his play to the level to demand an international call-up. However, the move abroad appears to have spurred Montero on. In fact, Transfermarkt currently values Montero at €5.5 million. At the start of the year, he was valued at just €2 million.
Last year, Montero made comments in an MLSsoccer.com article that suggested he could break into the national team while staying in the United States, noting that the number of Colombians in the MLS is on the rise.
“The perception of MLS in Colombia has changed,” Montero said, “and now is the chance for all of us that are here to show that this league has players with lots of quality, that it’s a competitive league, and that we can contribute to the objective of qualifying for the World Cup.”
Despite the comments, the fact that Montero decided to continue his career in Portugal may show that the perception of the MLS is still lagging in Latin American circles. His performance levels in the MLS were solid, but perhaps against competition not impressive enough for Pékerman. After just three months in Europe, he's suddenly back on the manager's radar. A telling sign.
Montero has represented Colombia on four occasions but hasn't been called up since 2009. Whether or not he will punch his ticket for Brazil depends on if he can sustain his early season form.