David Estrada's gameday started like so many of the previous ones over the past four months, preparing to play, but not expecting to start. It stayed that way until about 30 minutes before kick off.
That's when he found out that he was going to start for the first time since May 8. The Sounders still had some concerns about Obafemi Martins' health after a pregame fitness test and he was going to be held out.
Based on recent usage, it seemed as though Eriq Zavaleta was the natural choice. The first-round pick had been getting more minutes recently and had been the Sounders' leading scorer in the Reserve League. But with the Sounders already fielding a somewhat inexperienced lineup, it was Estrada who got the call.
"It was nice," Estrada said about learning he'd get the start. "It's been a pretty rough season, but when you have three guys who potentially start for the national team, it's hard to go in there. When you get the opportunity, you want to take advantage of it. I think everybody on the field did a good job and thankfully we got three points."
Estrada was hardly the star of the game and there were some passes he'd probably like to have back, but he continued to show why he has a place on this team. His dogged pursuit of loose balls and constant hustle helped set up several corner kicks and kept the Chivas USA defense from being able to relax.
All of which was exactly what Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid was hoping to get.
"Normally we have one or two forwards drop in a little bit more, but with their quality we wanted them both to stay higher and just be active and just create problems and not to be playing back-to-goal against their defenders, but be active and be running off their defenders," Schmid said.
Estrada's play also epitomized a team-wide commitment. Maybe the Sounders were lacking some of the quality they've shown in the past, but that was not going to be an excuse for failing to win a game they knew they should.
"It says a lot about this group," Estrada said. "Last week we had nine players on the field and we did a good job. I think anybody who steps on the field does a good job. Andy [Rose] at the end. It shows a lot of character as well. [Servando] Carrasco goes in there last week and does a good job. It says a lot about the players on this team."
Of course, Estrada isn't only playing because of effort. Almost as a reminder that he's also a pretty talented player, Estrada pulled off a nutmeg and sombrero just before he was pulled from the game.
A little bit of grit, a little bit skill. Just what the Sounders needed.