Estrada bursts onto scene with season's first hat trick

SEATTLE — In his postmatch interview on Saturday night, David Estrada managed to put three years of struggles, disappointments and setbacks behind him with just six words.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

Seattle’s hat trick hero against Toronto was emotional at times when he recounted his journey from disappointing draft pick to a little-used reserve near the bottom of the Sounders depth chart. He spoke about his grandfather — a man he never met — and credited him with instilling the love of soccer in his family.

Even after becoming the least likely hero in recent Sounders FC history, the Mexican-born forward stayed humble in his remarks.

“It was unbelievable,” Estrada said. “I am just thankful that I have the teammates I have. I am happy to have the players that I get to play with every day.”

Seattle’s game plan called for David Estrada to exploit Toronto FC’s high defensive line. He did that well, getting in behind the Reds’ back line on at least five occasions. Three of those chances became goals, giving Seattle its third hat trick in franchise history.

“They were going to step up high so I knew there was going to be some space behind them,” Estrada said. “I was very mad that I wasn’t able to put away two chances that I had early on. Luckily, in the second half I had two go in."

Teammate Brad Evans hailed Estrada’s contributions in the second forward role alongside Montero, saying that Estrada’s runs behind a defense bring “something that we haven’t had in the past.”

“When you have that it disorganizes the other defense,” Evans said. “Instead of playing in front of them all the time, we have somebody that can stretch and bring players out. He found himself in good positions this game and finished well to score three really good goals."

For head coach Sigi Schmid, it was gratifying to see the team’s first-round draft pick from 2010 finally come into his own. Estrada has now scored four of the Sounders five goals in 2012, as he continues to carve a name for himself with his clinical finishing. Veteran coach Schmid also credited Estrada’s work ethic once again, saying that he is showing the finishing ability that originally caught Schmid’s eye during Estrada’s freshman year at UCLA.

He went on to say that Estrada’s struggles have helped shape the player he has become.

“With everything in life people say, ‘If I would have only known’, or ‘I could have done this differently,’” Schmid began. “You wouldn’t be at the place you’re at if you hadn’t gone through all the experiences you went through.”

“All of it becomes part of your character and part of your makeup, so if he had achieved it earlier he probably wouldn’t be the same guy he is right now,” Schmid continued. “So we’ll just focus on where he is right now and not worry about that.”