SEATTLE – As good as the forward combination of Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson has been in league play, the David Estrada-Sammy Ochoa partnership might be just as promising in non-league competition.
The two backups each scored for the Sounders during a 3-1 win over Marathón on Wednesday, giving them a combined 15 goals in all competitions this season. Nine of those goals have come outside of league play, with six coming in CONCACAF Champions League alone.
“We really kinda like playing with each other,” Estrada said. “We understand each other. I really have a good time with him off the field, so we have that bond. It helps us on the field.”
Although this was the first time they’ve been paired together at forward in any match – even including the Reserve League – it was clear they fit together almost seamlessly.
Estrada (right) was his normal high-energy self, harassing opponents all over the field and generally making himself available whenever a teammate got into trouble. Ochoa was free to find open space and let his speedier teammates run off of him.
On Ochoa’s goal, Estrada was making a near post run and let the ball go through to the back post. That’s where Ochoa was waiting to pounce. It was Ochoa’s fourth straight CCL game with a goal, the only player to accomplish that in this year’s tournament.
“The guy can’t stop scoring,” Estrada said. “He’s been doing a good job. Hopefully he carries that into the rest of the playoffs.
“It’s just something we’ve worked on with [assistant coach Brian] Schmetzer. I kinda figured he was going to be at the back post.”
Estrada’s goal actually unfolded in a similar way, with Ochoa (above) making another back-post run. This time, Estrada took the pass at the near post. Although his first touch was a little strong and actually hit off the defender, Estrada recovered and quickly poked it past the goalkeeper.
It was his first goal in any competition since scoring against Chivas USA on May 26.
“One of the things I wanted to do was score,” Estrada admitted. “I told myself throughout the whole week, I was looking forward to this game. I wanted to show not just scoring, but things off the ball like winning those 50/50 balls and do everything I can to help the team win.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.