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Fredy Montero

Pat Onstad: What Were You Thinking?

photo courtesy Joshua Trujillo/

photo courtesy Joshua Trujillo/

What was Pat Onstad thinking? How could he lose his cool so suddenly in the most important game in the Dynamo’s season? A dangerous cross came through the penalty area, just out of his reach, and continued over the byline. Sure, replays show Fredy Montero obstructing the goalkeeper, but not in any way dangerously. Besides, he has as much right to get position on the cross as Onstad. So when the ‘keeper charged the young striker, chest-first, knocking him to the ground, a red card from referee Ricardo Salazar was certainly next. The Dynamo would be down to 10 men, without their veteran goalkeeper for the rest of this game and the return leg in Houston, and looking at a second successive first round exit in the MLS Cup playoffs. However, Salazar conferred with his officiating crew and proceeded to display a yellow card to Onstad. The Seattle crowd roared furiously, viewers across the nation were left scratching their heads – even the announcers seemed to be surprised.

Perhaps if the push had occurred on any other player than Fredy Montero, there would have been a red card. Unfortunately for the young Colombian, he has developed a reputation throughout MLS for his unsporting tactics. So while Onstad escaped with a yellow card, Montero was also booked for his part in the altercation. As Kartik Krishnaiyer introduces in the previous article, these often despicable actions do little to endear Montero to the general American soccer fan. Even some Seattle supporters have expressed their displeasure at the perceived cheating. He is still early in his career, and one hopes that Montero can learn to use his skills with the ball to find success in MLS – not his dives.

On the play that could have changed the whole complexion of this playoff series, Pat Onstad explained his side. “He just picked me and, to be honest, I just gave him a super-light bump,” he said to reporters after the game. “He went down like he normally does and rolled around a few times. I think if it had been Nate Jaqua, he would’ve just brushed his shoulder like there was a fly buzzing him.”

Onstad may be underselling his part in the altercation. Replays show the goalkeeper visibly upset at Montero’s actions, and the “super-light bump” was given with heavy intent. According to a report from the referees, a yellow card was given instead of a red because of the action of the push – no hands or head, just the chest. However, it seemed clear that there was malicious behind the push, and could have easily been awarded with an ejection from the game. Onstad was saved by the poor reputation of Montero, a point he referred to in further post-game comments: “[T]hat’s Fredy. I knew as soon as I bumped, ‘That’s the wrong guy to bump, Pat.” So, I got what I deserved and I’m sure the referee felt [Montero] embellished a little bit.”

Give credit to the referees in this hotly contested match. Both the Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders FC earned eight red cards apiece during the regular season. The Dynamo in particular was being labeled in the media as being “undisciplined.” Preparation prior to the game for the officiating crew must have entailed the profiling of players most likely to inflict dangerous play. The Onstad/Montero incident occurred in the 15th minute of the match, with each earning a yellow card. With the precedent set for the remainder of the game, only four more yellows were issued, despite a number of other reckless and dangerous tackles. Should the head referee Ricardo Salazar made more of a statement early with a sending off of Pat Onstad (and perhaps Montero as well?) Fortunately he did not, and despite the early fireworks, as exciting a scoreless draw as you will see played out.

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  1. Lovin' Seattle

    November 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    To Todd:
    We do respect the game. That’s why there is 35000+ of us. It drives me crazy when Montero dives and doesn’t get up but the replay does show Onstad slamming him down. No question. As for DC. Look at the post article during the Open Cup final and read the comments by THEIR fans. Jeez…no respect there. And for whoever talked of Jaqua’s toughness. How does the guy who kicked him IN THE HEAD, WITH HIS CLEATS, not get a high boot or yellow card. This ain’t rugby people! As someone who got to watch Celtic in Glasgow win the Scottish League and someone who has been to major FOOTBALL parks in Europe, I’m thrilled to be part of a fan base that treats FOOTBALL the way it’s treated across the pond. NO HASH MARKS and NO MERCY. Scarves up Seattle. WE ROCK!!!!

  2. Todd

    November 2, 2009 at 10:04 am

    I’ve still yet to read a comment from a Sounders fan that makes me like them. Respect the game/league forchrissakes. Onstad is in the conversation for best goalie in MLS ever, if it wasn’t for his success at an old age, ya’ll probably wouldn’t’ve had the confidence to sign Keller. Likewise, ya’ll dismissed DC’s fans, yet your entire organization wouldn’t exist without the nearly 2-decades of committed excellence that United has cultivated. Ugh.

  3. Todd

    November 2, 2009 at 10:01 am

    if you’ve ever watched a Dynamo game, you know Pat always walkruns toward officials or once the balls in his hands or out of play will walkrun forward to start playing again, its pretty obvious he was doing this (0-0, Playoffs) and Montero was being his usual bitch self and basically zombiewalking directly infront of the keeper.

    im sure ya’ll think Dynamo is intentionally hurting Jaqua too. (FYI: Jaqua learned his toughness/passion from the Dynamo, thats why he’s staying toe-to-toe with us)

  4. Noel

    October 30, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I was going for Houston until Unstud acted like a bitch! I dont think he deserved a red, but he should have a yellow for knocking him down and another yellow for the fake poke in the eye. Speaking of bitches I wonder what REIS will pull this week on ROLF. Why do these 6.2 keepers always pick on the skillful little guys.

  5. Matt in SF

    October 30, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Danny, the play was long over when Jaqua scored. Counting that as a goal is the same as going back there tonite and hitting some balls in an empty net.

    Sorry that your team failed to take advantage of the home leg of your tie. Good luck next week.

  6. Mike @ GoSounders

    October 30, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    He didn’t see Montero and was going to the ref…??? Ha ha ha ha! Too funny.

    Pat Onstad is a Douchebag

  7. Danny

    October 30, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I was at the game, and at the time I definitely thought Onstad should have been sent off, but after watching the replay, I think a yellow is probably right. It doesn’t compare at all to Wicks’ stomp and the way he blew up after the call. Montero is frustrating to watch sometimes with the diving and lack of effort sometimes, but if yellow cards were given to every player who embellished the way Montero did last night, there would be 15 given out each game.

    Having said that, the fact remains that Onstad got beaten three times. He was saved once on the line by a defender, once by the crossbar, and once by terrible officiating.

    He’s no Kasey Keller, that’s for sure.

    And, I have to say, it makes me really happy thinking of Joey Clams getting all angry and bitter because Seattle sells 35k tickets and gets to host the MLS Cup and has the best stadium in MLS and will soon have two of the best rivalries. Keep crying, Joey. And then watch the MLS Cup at Qwest Field in the best soccer city in America.

  8. Seybold

    October 30, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Not only that Ben, Saint Pat the Virtuous also acted curiously after the melee. He comes out of it, head held up, looking fine for the whole world to see, then suddenly doubles down and clutches his face.

    Then pops back up because, of course, nothing had happened. Not that he was trying to get the ref-s attention, oh no. Good red-blooded Yanks would never do that!

    • Taterpie

      October 30, 2009 at 5:22 pm

      “Good red-blooded Yanks would never do that!”

      He’s Canadian. However, no ‘class act’ would resort to stupid violence and faking an eye-poke.

      Montero’s just getting some Ronaldo backlash – and while he’s a bit gamey, he’s certainly no Ruiz.

      Now let’s go win it in Houston!

  9. Ben R

    October 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Watch the 1:34 mark. Look at the goal box. Notice how Onstad full on shoves Montero out of the way earlier in the game on another corner kick? Why no call. I don’t blame Montero for embellishing the second big push when Onstad shoulder checked him if they aren’t going to call a blatant foul like that earlier in the game. Onstad should have been ejected. Ref should have controlled the game.

  10. Lovin Seattle

    October 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    OH Joey..When I said suck it I wasn’t referring to your master DIck Cheney’s(or is it now Glenn Beck?)toe. That’d just be gross and toxic.

  11. Lovin Seattle

    October 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    So Joey. Jealous much. Sorry the backwater you come from prefers NASCAR and beer to football(the real football..not throwball). But to use that amount of vitriol towards the Northwest is just ignorant. My Jesus loving self, is quite happy with my team and thrilled to go to games with fans who actually know the rules of the sport and take their kids to enjoy it. Sorry that you obviously will never experience that. So I say to you….Joey Clams….SUCK IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. ben

    October 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Wow. Amazing the unhappiness an exceptionally well-supported expansion team excelling in its first season can engender. Really Clams? “Smug, image-seeking fans”? 30,000+ fans at each game isn’t fans seeking some sort of recognition, it’s a huge number of people coming out to support a team they’ve fallen in love with. But hey, judge a book by its (ground-) cover.

    You get a team regularly doubling the average fan-base of the other teams and they’re supposed to what? All fly out and support Kansas City instead? Lend their rabid support via videoconferencing? Post incendiary blog comments? Guaranteed your “less hip parts” of the country will do better with the exposure Seattle fans are giving the league than whatever the hell you think would be better for MLS (which is apparently grass pitches—I’m sure there are at least 10,000 more Toronto fans who just stay home ’cause what’s the point of a game on grass, eh? So clearly when BMO opens they’ll average 30K+ right? RIGHT?).

    Now, retire to whatever rabidly-anti-coast vermin hole you snuck out of and suck it.

    Re: game. Onstad situation was ridiculous and is now being overblown. When it comes to officiation of that game how is Salazar not earning serious knocks for ignoring advantage after a foul against the Sounders and Jaqua’s subsequent goal? Everyone bemoaning the non-excitement of a tie game should realize any other ref (regardless of how they called the Onstad/Montero kerfuffle, not to mention the Dynamo player knocking the ball out of Keller’s hands as he threw—an act that earlier earned Montero a yellow) would have watched that game go down 1-0 Sounders.

  13. ole4

    October 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Excellent analysis. Onstad is a class act and Fredy is a little jerk. It’s a good object lesson that your reputation is important, because each player’s reputation played into the ref’s decision. As for the Seattle fan’s contention about the hoardes rattling Onstad — obviously, no. His performance was stellar. Next game should be fascinating.

  14. Mat

    October 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    As a Seattle fan, I didn’t have a problem with the Yellow for Onstad. He deserved it for BOTH pushes; the one prior to the corner, and the idiotic bump after. Montero may have deserved an embellishment card, but then Onstad deserves the same for his “I got my eye poked” farce.

    I hate straight red cards, and honestly I would rather Onstad get away with one. But don’t pull the self-righteous Montero embellishes bit. Onstad showed he’s just as much a gamesman. There should have been one yellow to Onstad, but it would have never gone that far. There should have been a penalty for the ridiculous push Onstad got nothing for on the corner, and that would have been justice.

    • Cidolfas

      October 31, 2009 at 4:19 pm

      “rediculous push”

      Oh! You’re talking about where if Pat had jumped for the ball Montero would have (and put himself in position to) take Onstad’s legs out, which can result in bad injury to the keeper? Most likely, Montero goes down and complains that he was pounced on, or that contact wasn’t his intention.

      You know, the thing Onstad was walking to the ref to complain about while Freddy was getting in his way so Onstad couldn’t tell the ref to look out for it?

      Yeah, Onstad was stupid for the push, but if he had reacted as he was preparing to do and Freddy does what he was preparing to do, that could have been the last play on Pat’s career. I’d be pissed too.

  15. Marc

    October 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I’ve watched the replay several times and it seems to me Onstad wasn’t heading toward Montero, but toward the referee. His face is clearly looking away from Freddy and toward the ref and he’s moving forward with purpose because the ref is at the edge of the box and moving away (this is after the corner kick skirmish and the ball is out of play). In do so, Montero is in his way and Pat chests him. I think it’s more than “the super-light” bump Onstad describes, but that’s because Pat was trying to get the ref’s attention and wasn’t really looking at Montero. So he clatters into Montero and Freddy goes down like he’s been shot and that made Onstad furious and he started shouting at him and then everyone assumes that he had purposely attacked Montero. But I don’t think that’s the case: Montero was just in his way and — probably purposely — did not move out of the way resulting in the collision. Montero falling down was definitely a dive. The two yellows was a good call.

  16. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Proud to play on plastic. Smug, image-seeking fans who care more about their cross-border three-way than with the development of the game in less hip parts of their own country. I’d love to see Seattle buried under lava and a 9.0 tear Portland to shreds. A tsunami for Vancouver would be the icing on the cake. Then watch the atheist bastards hold candlelight vigils and appeal to the great spirit during a alt rock fundraiser. They make me sick. By the way, I do hope that the natural disasters manage not to hurt anyone.

    • Michael

      October 30, 2009 at 7:10 pm

      So, in other words, you hate soccer…?

    • ben

      November 1, 2009 at 2:41 pm

      I just had to come back to Mr. Clams’ post while watching the approximately 1500 fans watching the Revs play Chicago. Say what you want about Seattle’s “smug” fans but at least we’re fans! We turn out more than 35,000 for a weeknight playoff and look at the sorry state of Gilette on a Sunday afternoon.

      It’s a good thing teams like the Sounders, Toronto, and even DC can dump enough cash into the MLS to keep all those empty-stadium teams afloat. But hey Joey, you keep on biting that hand and it’ll continue, nevertheless, to feed you.

  17. 3VIL L33T

    October 30, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    if you watch the replay, you can clearly see that after the bump pat was looking at montero saying “I”m Pat Onstand Bi**h!!!”

  18. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Are any earthquakes expected in Seattle soon? I’ll cross my fingers.

  19. Oscar

    October 30, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I have to say, while I appreciate the eastern conference, the western conference makes my blood boil. I admit my bias toward Seattle, but with us included the four teams have the most foul-heavy, heated, altercationy play style. I think it’s a sign of bad referees throughout MLS that the least ethical teams are also consistently the best.

  20. Charles

    October 30, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Seattle FANS should take credit for rattling a veteran goalie, Onstad is not Wicks, who was easy for Montero to target.
    Heat of the moment is more intense with 36,000 fans, very loud fans. My ears just stopped ringing.

    • Rex

      October 30, 2009 at 3:57 pm

      Rattled? Not quite. He just when on to make 4 saves and record a shutout.

  21. Joey Clams

    October 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Pat’s one player for whom I have great respect. I had his idiotic moment last night but I’ll let it go. He was dumb to allow himself to be provoked but he’s probably had it with the diving little tart, Montero.

  22. Grunthos

    October 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I think, too, we see a distinction being made here between Onstad’s bump and Wicks’ stamp. It’s pretty clear that Wicks made no actual contact, Montero’s immediate reaction and later magic-marker fakery notwithstanding; but Wicks’ intent was so obviously violent and beyond the pale that there was no proper course other than a red card and suspension. Onstad acted stupidly and unsportingly, but there was no chance of Montero actually being injured by that action. He risked a red, but a red was not mandatory there.

  23. Dan Y.

    October 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I feel that in professional matches, you need to avoid red cards for incidents that happen away from the ball/while the ball is out of play. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, and the person is begging to be sent off. However, if two players, who are both willing participants in an exchange, (though some would say Montero was less than willing here) want to engage in some shoving, give them both yellows and let them play cautiously for the rest of the match. Furthermore, teams and supporters that beg for cards for actions not related to game play is really irritating, and MLS has done a good job to minimize how frequently cards are shown in those situations.

    Had the official shown the red, the next day’s story will include quotes about how the officials overtook a game early and didn’t let the guys “just play.” It’s a no-win situation for them.

    Onstad was a moron for his actions, a red would have been an overreaction. A yellow lets everyone know that it was seen. Onstad was probably also told that he should be glad it’s not a red and that it won’t take much for him to be shown the 2nd yellow. You keep everyone in the game, and let the players be as responsible as possible for the outcome of the game.

    I also agree that Montero’s reputation is preceding him, and affects when he is shown a card, and when opponents are shown cards for acts against him.

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