MLS This Week: Fredy fits in, the Atomic Ant and Chicharito

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) " As Fredy Montero acclimates to the Vancouver Whitecaps, his previous experience in Major League Soccer has already prepared him for play in the Pacific Northwest.

Yes, there's the damp weather. But there's also the unique Cascadia Cup rivalry with the Sounders and the Portland Timbers.

Montero certainly gets it. He played for four seasons with the Sounders before he returned to his native Colombia for a stint with Millonarios. He also played in Portugal and China before the Whitecaps acquired him on loan from the Chinese Super League's Tianjin Teda just before the start of the MLS season.

A three-time league All-Star, the 29-year-old striker is the Sounders' all-time leading scorer with 47 goals and 34 assists in 119 regular-season matches from 2009-12.

He's fitting in nicely with the Whitecaps this season, leading the club with four goals in seven matches and just four starts.

"Of course, I do my best every game," he said. "I try to respect the style of the coach, and what we do every day in practice. ... We need to believe that we are good players, we are a good team, and we can play to anyone in this league."

Three of his goals have come in Cascadia Cup rivalry matches. Montero scored two goals in a 2-0 victory over the Sounders then rebounded a penalty kick for a goal in a 2-1 loss at Portland last weekend.

"We know he's a top player. He's also a top person as I've been saying, and he works hard every day, so what's important is we create chances for him," coach Carl Robinson said.

The Cascadia Cup is a supporter-created annual honor that goes to the winner of the three-way competition between the Whitecaps, Timbers and Sounders, based on points. Vancouver is the defending champion.

"It's always fun to play in these kind of games," Montero said. "I'm happy I keep scoring in these kind of games. For me it's just a matter of believing the team is going to do good."

The Whitecaps (2-4-1) visit rival Montreal on Saturday.

"I know I still have more to give," Montero said. "I'm trying to work hard every day in practice to reach my level, as soon as possible."

GAME OF THE WEEK: Portland Timbers at FC Dallas, Saturday. The Timbers (5-2-1) lead the league in points and goals, but they'll be without Diego Valeri, who has five goals this season but left last weekend's victory over the Whitecaps with a left hip injury. Jake Gleeson missed the Vancouver game with a hip flexor, too. Dallas, meanwhile, is the league's lone unbeaten team, sitting second in the Western Conference standings at 4-0-2 after a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City last weekend.

"Being respected in the league is not easy. Surely, next game people will talk about us being the only unbeaten team in the league, but we do not put those facts in our heads. We just keep moving forward," Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said.

BEST OF THE REST: Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls, Saturday. Midfielder Dax McCarty returns to Red Bull Arena for the first time since his sudden trade in the offseason. Speaking to reporters after the trade, McCarty was stunned " and didn't mince words.

"There's no player that's bigger than any club and that's something that I understand full well," he said at the time. "But I do think if you're a club that preaches family and you're a club that preaches doing things the right way and trying to treat players the right way, then I don't think you go and trade a guy who you say you relied on a lot and that is your captain behind his back without at least telling him that, 'Hey, these are some possibilities, unfortunately we have to move you.' I thought that I at least earned that."

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco wins this week's honors after a pair of goals in the Reds' 3-1 win at home over the Chicago Fire last Friday night. His offensive outburst helped snap a three-game winless streak for Toronto.

ON THE MOVE?: The MLS rumor mill was grinding again this week surrounding expansion club LAFC's reported efforts to land Mexican national team star Javier Hernandez, better known as Chicharito. He's currently playing for the Bundesliga side Leverkusen, but he's also played for Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Chicharito's agent told Univision there's been no formal offer. The veteran of two World Cups with the Mexican national team was targeted in the past by Orlando City.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: The Major League Soccer Players Union released the early-season salary database for all players in the league this week.

There are now 28 players in the league making more than $1 million in guaranteed compensation. Leading the way is Kaka, making $7.1 million this season with Orlando City. Next on the list is Giovinco at $7.1 million, followed by Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley at $6.5 million. Kaka and Giovinco are the only two players topping $7 million in guaranteed compensation.

Among other notable players topping seven figures in total compensation: New York City FC's Andrea Pirlo ($5.9 million) and David Villa ($5.6 million), Los Angeles' Giovani Dos Santos ($5.5 million), new Chicago midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger ($5.4 million), Toronto's Jozy Altidore ($4.8 million), Seattle's Clint Dempsey ($3.8 million), Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard ($2.4 million) and Portland's Valeri ($2.6 million).

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AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.

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For more AP coverage of MLS: https://apnews.com/tag/MajorLeagueSoccer

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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