SEATTLE — Broken foot or not, David Estrada was not about to let his fitness fade.
When his foot was still in a cast, it meant hours of one-legged pedaling on the stationary bike. As he got healed, he moved on to running seemingly endless laps around the practice field.
Nearly four months after suffering his injury during a training session, Estrada finally made his return by playing 19 minutes in the Seattle Sounders’ 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
“I didn’t feel winded,” Estrada told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I think that’s a good indication that I could have gone more. I went 45 against the reserves [on Sept. 16] and I felt fine. Honestly, I really feel good and I don’t feel like I’ve been out.”
Estrada felt so good, in fact, that he played 62 minutes on Sunday for the reserves. He ended up scoring a goal and picking up an assist.
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That was hardly a surprise, as fitness has never been an issue for Estrada. Even during his first two years in MLS, when he barely played, coaches constantly lauded him as one of the team’s fittest players. During his recent rehabilitation, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid regularly pointed out that he expected Estrada to invigorate the squad as soon as he was healed.
Not only did Estrada provide the expected energy in his return, but he didn’t look particularly rusty, either.
"I thought it was good,” Schmid said in assessing Estrada’s performance. “I thought his touch was good. He connected with some good passes and he was dangerous."
Although Estrada insisted that he wasn’t frustrated by the longer-than-expected recovery, it’s also clear that he’s looking forward to rediscovering the form that has easily made this year his most successful season as a professional.
“I felt like I didn’t really have to rush it because the team was doing so well,” Estrada said. “It’s good when the team is doing well and you can just kind of nurse the injury and come back and have a positive impact on the team.
"I’m going to keep improving every game and more opportunities will come my way.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.