Saborio, Montero elevated to DP status

[MLS] The Western Conference, which provided six of the eight playoff qualifiers last season as well as MLS Cup winner Colorado, is already looking stronger for next year. More than a year of negotiations has finally produced an MLS contract and Designated Player status for Seattle forward Fredy Montero, who had been playing on loan the past two seasons for Deportivo Cali in his native Colombia. Real Salt Lake kept pace by converting the loan of 2010 Newcomer of the Year Alvaro Saborio (from Swiss club FC Sion), who scored 12 goals and four assists last season, into a four-year MLS deal.

Montero, 23, has scored 22 goals and registered 17 assists in his two MLS seasons. Seattle and MLS have spent much of the last year trying to finalize a deal, and anxious fans were encouraged not long ago when Montero sent notification via Twitter he’d bought a house in the area. A rumored transfer to CSKA Moscow, for which Montero had expressed interest, never materialized.

“He is a special player who is still developing, but also a player who has been instrumental in our success these last two years,” said Sounders FC head Coach Sigi Schmid in a team release. Montero earned $180,000 last season, well short of the DP benchmark. Under MLS rules, a player whose salary and acquisition costs amount to $500,000 or more per year is a Designated Player. Changes in Montero’s salary and other terms of the deal weren’t revealed.

At a base salary of $120,000 last season, Saborio gave RSL great value by scoring 18 goals in all competitions and providing a strong, mobile target up top. His deal required RSL and MLS to negotiate with Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa, which also owned a portion of his rights.

Saborio is recovering from knee surgery performed last month and is expected to be ready for the start of preseason training in late January.

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