VANCOUVER — Fredy Montero said shortly after joining the Vancouver Whitecaps that he wouldn't celebrate if he scored against his former club.
The Colombian striker kept his word against the Seattle Sounders on Friday night — twice.
Montero headed home two goals before the Whitecaps withstood a late surge to defeat the Sounders 2-1 for their second victory of the Major League Soccer season.
"To score two goals in this kind of match, it's always a dream for a forward," said Montero. "It's my job."
Montero, who scored 47 times in 119 regular-season appearances for Seattle from 2009 to 2012, nodded a perfect Cristian Techera cross beyond the fingertips of Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute.
Montero dropped to his knees after the breakthrough and pointed to the sky in a muted celebration.
"It's hard, especially when all my teammates came and they were hugging me," the 29-year-old said of keeping his emotions in check. "The message that I want to send to the Seattle fans was respect for them for all that they gave me."
On loan to Vancouver (2-3-1) for the 2017 season from his Chinese club, Montero's opener was the Whitecaps' first shot on target of the night.
"He's a poacher," said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. "That's what goal-scorers do."
Montero then doubled the lead in the 80th minute with his third goal of the MLS campaign off a corner when he headed Kendall Waston's flick on past a helpless Frei.
"Mixing of feelings," said Montero. "But at the end of the day what makes me most happy is the team got the three points."
Defending MLS Cup champions Seattle (1-2-3) did its best to spoil the party late after controlling large chunks of the action until Vancouver grabbed its lead.
Clint Dempsey hit the post in the 86th minute — his second time striking the woodwork — before Will Bruin got one back for in the 89th.
The Sounders, who possessed the ball more than 62 per cent of time and had six shots on target to the Whitecaps' three, then had a chance to equalize in injury time on a Dempsey flick that Waston cleared off the line.
"All the possession in the world doesn't do you any good unless you can score," said Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer, whose team saw a four-game unbeaten run snapped. "We have to find ways to not let teams off the hook when you dominate them in some of the stats that don't mean as much as the scoreline."
The Sounders had a good opportunity six minutes into the second half when Dempsey forced a diving save from Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted before Waston blocked Nicolas Lodeiro's follow up.
Ousted was at it again moments later, stretching to stop Lodeiro's low shot from just inside the penalty area before Montero struck twice.
Robinson graded his team's showing through six MLS games as "decent," pointing to the Whitecaps' run to the Champions League semifinals as part of the reason for the wobbly start.
"When you put a lot into that and have league games after or before, your focus has to shift a little bit," he said. "Maybe the first couple of results took a hit based upon that."
After falling 3-0 at Real Salt Lake in a blizzard last weekend, the Whitecaps hosted the Sounders under the roof of a raucous B.C. Place Stadium where both sets of supporters were in full voice.
Seattle had the game's first chance in the eighth minute when Dempsey grabbed the ball in midfield and fired a dipping shot from 40 yards out that a leaping Ousted could only watch hit the crossbar and stay out.
Robinson experimented with a 3-5-2 formation against Real Salt Lake — the first time the club had gone with that setup — but reverted to his familiar 4-2-3-1 against Seattle.
Vancouver's best opportunity of the half came in the 34th minute when Montero took a pass near the Sounders' penalty spot and tried to curl a ball into the top corner that just missed the target.
"As soon as the game started I left everything behind," said Montero. "When I had that opportunity in the first half I knew the second one was coming."
As it turns out, so was a third.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press