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Scouting David Estrada

David Estrada is one of five Sounders fighting for a chance to start, as well as the opportunity to be the first player off the bench.
David Estrada is one of five Sounders fighting for a chance to start, as well as the opportunity to be the first player off the bench.

Most Sounders fans know David Estrada was the club's first pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft. With a grand total of seven minutes played, though, it's understandable that you probably don't have much of an opinion of him.

After attending Monday's reserve game, I figured it was a good time to share some of my observations.

First off, it should be noted that as good as Estrada looked, he was far from the only one. After all, the Sounders are a pro side and should look good against a college squad.

That said, Estrada looks very capable when the ball's at his feet. He can obviously handle it, and I don't know if it's because he was literally playing against some of those guys just a few months ago, but he really seemed intent on showing them a thing or two. He definitely tried some dribbling moves, although I don't know how much any of it ultimately accomplished.

He also seemed to have particular chemistry with Miguel Montano. If memory serves, Estrada grew up speaking Spanish as the primary language at home. He grew up in a very Hispanic part of Salinas, which is itself a pretty Hispanic town. I have no doubt that having the ability to speak to a young player like Montano in his native tongue, and relate to him on a deeper level, can only help their understanding of one another.

On defense, I'm a big believer that the most we can reasonably expect of the offensive-minded players is to give an honest effort on defense. Estrada was definitely doing that. He was tracking back the entire game, and was really getting into some of the players on a few occasions. 
One exchange really stood out. A Washington player had the ball about 60 yards out on the left wing, and Estrada was right on him. The UW guy had his back to the goal, and Terry Boss was yelling out for Estrada not to foul because the player really had nowhere to go. Estrada stayed with the guy, rather relentlessly, and ultimately ended up fouling him. 

Now, I don't know that this is a great example of either stellar defense or any particular sense of disciplined play, I do think Estrada was trying to make a point. If getting on the field means Estrada has to expand his game beyond playmaker, he's definitely willing to do that, even if it means playing more physical than may otherwise being advisable.

I realize I have seen a grand total of a few minutes in a meaningful game and one game against college players, but I do think there's a chance for Estrada to develop into a very capable player. This is a player who had one of the greatest prep careers in California history (he scored 66 goals in his senior year at Alisal, and 114 in his final three years there), and opted to walk-on at UCLA instead of take at least one other in-state scholarship offer. He then was named Freshman of the Year after scoring 12 goals and racking up 28 points. He didn't go on to have the collegiate career many expected of him, but that probably had more to do with the fact that he became the focus of every team's defense. 

I'm not saying he definitely deserves to be playing over the guys he seems to be competing with -- Pat Noonan, Roger Levesque, Michael Fucito and Sanna Nyassi -- but he definitely deserves to be in the conversation about doling out minutes. 

I absolutely have a biased point of view. I come from the same part of California as Estrada, and was working at one of the papers that covered him when he was a dominating prep star. I also have a soft place in my part for these two-world players, guys who are equally comfortable (or out of place) with English and Spanish speakers. That said, I'm also a professional journalist and I think I know when it's my biases masquerading as impartiality.

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