TUKWILA, Wash. – David Estrada is getting the Roger Levesque treatment.
No, it doesn’t have anything to do with a hairstyle. Rather, Estrada has been Seattle’s new utility player during the preseason, similar to Levesque’s role with the team last year. No matter where he ends up on the field, Estrada’s willing to give it his all.
“Wherever they put me, I’m going to work my butt off,” he told reporters at training on Friday.
After being bounced around the field in preseason, it looks as though the 24-year-old will be spending more time up front. Estrada paired with forward Sammy Ochoa in Seattle’s second group during Monday’s preseason game against Vancouver in Arizona, a reflection of the coaching staff’s decision to concentrate on seeing Estrada in a more forward position.
“We looked at him a little bit at outside back but also understanding that O’Brian White is still a long ways away and Steve Zakuani is a ways away, we really felt we needed one more forward,” head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters. “We felt that he’s the guy who could do that. He’s got the work rate and he’s got enough speed to stretch an opponent’s defense, and that’s something we always need from that other forward.”
Schmid commended Estrada on his sharpness during short-field matches during Friday’s practice, noting that he did well to maneuver in small spaces to score a couple goals.
With Seattle’s roster mostly settled, Estrada is one of the players who needs to show well during this preseason camp to reclaim his roster spot. He said his goal this season is to play more by building off his strong end to the 2011 season, where he made two starts in October.
The UCLA product started and went the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 league victory over New England last October, the player’s second start of his career. He also started later that month in CONCACAF Champions League play against Monterrey.
“This season, I’m just trying to play more,” Estrada said. “Last season, I kind of ended on a high note and my goal the whole offseason is to build off of that. I know what I can do and the coaches saw a little bit of that. Hopefully I can [continue to] show them that early on in the season.”
During the offseason, his primary focus fell on improving his one-v-one defending, something Estrada calls the toughest aspect of the game.
“That’s one thing I tried to work on in the offseason, but right now, the coaches see me more as a forward,” said Estrada, who played striker at UCLA. “Like I said, wherever they put me, I’m just going to work as hard as I can.”