PHILADELPHIA - At the 2010 SuperDraft, not many expected David Estrada to be selected in the first round. Tops on that list was Estrada himself.
So you could imagine his surprise to hear his name called when the Sounders FC selected the UCLA product with the 11th overall pick in the first round.
“I ran outside to my backyard, screamed my lungs out, cried my eyes out and just couldn’t believe it. I did not expect it at all,” said Estrada, a 21-year-old Salinas, Calif., native. “I was more surprised than anything. I still can’t believe it right now that I’m actually doing this.”
The Sounders FC went on to pick midfielder/forward Mike Seamon from Villanova in the second round and defender Jamel Wallace from San Diego State in the fourth round. But with their first round pick, head coach Sigi Schmid and technical director Chris Henderson tapped their UCLA pipeline Thursday picking Estrada from their alma mater.
After walking on his freshman year, he went on to be a four-year All-Pac-10 selection and was 2006 Soccer America National Freshman of the Year after he tallied 12 goals and four assists for the Bruins, when he played mostly as a forward.
But his sophomore year saw him faced with some adversity. A foot injury limited his playing time and slowed him on the field.
“Most players would have sat out that whole second year because he was carrying so many injuries, but he’s a tough kid,” Schmid said.
He finished his sophomore year with just three goals in 14 games, but came back his junior year with four goals and three assists before finishing his UCLA career with three goals and seven assists in his senior season.
“He played deeper in the midfield because that’s what they needed, then this past year he played more as a flank player than up front,” Schmid said of his statistical dip after his stellar first season. “For us, he fills what we’re looking for.”
Estrada faced those challenges head-on, though.
“I think I’ve grown from my past three years at UCLA. I did really well my freshman year, so I know what it takes to be successful, but sometimes you’re going to hit some downhill slopes, and you have to work your way through it,” he said.
Schmid saw Estrada play frequently for UCLA, but also invited him to the teams combine in Las Vegas, then again at the MLS combine over the weekend in Florida.
“He’s technically very good and he has an excellent work rate,” Schmid said. “It helps us get some wide players on our team because we are pretty strong down the middle and we have to try to improve in our width.”
Estrada will join the rest of the Sounders in training camp beginning January 25. The team is slated for a trip to Phoenix February 1 and La Manga, Spain, February 16.
“I’m just excited to go there and if I can contribute I’m going to do the best I can,” Estrada said.
The season kicks off March 25 when the Sounders FC host the Philadelphia Union at Qwest Field.