SEATTLE — After David Estrada’s early ill-advised back pass was cleared on Wednesday night, Jeff Parke’s gesture was easy to grasp: “What are you doing?”
Moments later, Estrada lost track of his position and let the ball go over the touchline for an unforced turnover.
It was a shaky beginning for the third-year player, but he eventually found his groove in Seattle’s 2-0 victory over visiting Jaguares de Chiapas at CenturyLink Field. The darling of Seattle’s preseason, who has gone from third-string defender to first-choice forward, impressed during a 76-minute shift Wednesday night.
Estrada admitted that nerves did creep in during his first start in front of the home crowd.
“I was a little bit nervous, no way around it,” Estrada said after the match. “Once I connected my first pass, that’s when everything went away and I was able to focus on the game.”
With first-choice starter Eddie Johnson unavailable with a hamstring injury, Schmid pointed to the former UCLA player as Fredy Montero’s strike partner. While Montero netted the glory with two goals, Schmid credited Estrada with doing the dirty work in the team’s win.
Estrada pestered and stretches the opposing back line with his tireless running. After his shift, assistant coach Brian Schmetzer told Estrada that perhaps he ran a little too much, but Estrada said that overexertion may have just come with the excitement of his first home start.
Schmid also credited Estrada with his involvement in some excellent passing sequences, including a 20-minute period to begin the second half when Schmid said Estrada was “very good.”
If this was a preview of Seattle’s lineup for the Santos Laguna match in a week’s time, Estrada will be starting in one of the most important matches in franchise history. If he felt nerves tonight, then he’ll have to manage them better when the Mexican league-leaders come to town next Wednesday.
Schmid is confident he’ll be able to do so.
“Today was a good test for him,” Schmid said. “Our crowd was out here, so you could feel the atmosphere and the noise and it was the first time [this preseason].
“When you put the uniform on and the lights go on, that's already something that settles your nerves,” Schmid added. “So for him, next week is going to be easier than this week."
Santos Laguna injury
Seattle’s task in the CCL quarterfinals may have become a tad easier. News reports out of Mexico indicate that Santos Laguna striker Carlos Darwin Quintero has been ruled out for 2-3 weeks with a torn thigh muscle.
The team’s website announced that the 24-year-old Colombian, who scored four goals in the Preliminary Round and Group Stage of the Champions League, was injured while playing 90 minutes in Sunday's 2-1 loss at Chivas de Guadalajara.