TUKWILA, Wash. — It has been almost 10 months since David Estrada started a league match.
But assuming he’s fit, the fourth-year Seattle Sounders player appears to be in line to end that drought on Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes with starting forwards Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson away on national team duty.
Estrada was able to play 45 minutes in Sunday’s Reserve League game and appears to be mostly healed from an ankle injury that has kept him from playing in competitive matches so far this season.
“I think I am,” Estrada said when asked if was ready to play. “Obviously, you don’t know until you test it. In training I feel good. We’ll see this weekend.”
Estrada is understandably eager to get back on the field. A broken foot cost him about three months last season and he never regained the starting spot he had won at the start of the year. In those 12 early-season starts, Estrada scored five goals. All of those were career highs for the former first-round pick, who had played less than 200 minutes in his first two seasons combined.
“He’s hungry,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “That’s never an issue with David. It’s about being smart. He’s the kind of guy that you have to lock into his locker to make sure he doesn’t over-train. It’s tough for it to heal when you overdo it each day. We have to find that right balance. It’s a little more difficult for him.”
Adding just a little extra motivation to Estrada’s efforts is the possibility of playing in front of friends and family. The Northern California native has never started a game in San Jose, with his only appearance there coming as a late substitute in 2011.
“It’s a blessing,” Estrada said, estimating that close to 50 people may be there to see him. “Even if I’m not [playing], they’ll go and support the team.”