The early parts of MLS training camp are reserved for work on fitness. Later, the camp transitions to preparation for the competitive MLS season.
Fitness has never been an issue for second-year midfielder David Estrada. As a rookie, he was the best finisher in the beep test, which the club uses to gauge fitness
This year was no different, but the David Estrada present on the field when the team broke off into competitions was a change from the one that came to Seattle from UCLA and then played in just three MLS matches in 2010. The first-round pick (11th overall) in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft did play in all three friendlies, totaling 129 minutes, one goal and one assist, and added 197 minutes in four matches in CONCACAF Champions League play and saw action in one US Open Cup match off the bench for seven minutes.
This year, he’s looking to increase those totals and has a different sort of focus and determination.
“He is getting back to what I saw in his early years at UCLA,” Schmid said of the former Bruins walk-on who was named Soccer America’s National Freshman of the Year after notching 12 goals and four assists in his first year at UCLA. “He’s busy and active and in the box. When you look at our goal-scoring in the games that we’ve played, he’s gotten himself on the scoreboard a couple of times and gotten into goal-dangerous situations because he is active.”
Estrada admits nerves got the best of him in the early-going in 2010, but this year, he is feeling much more prepared for the rigors of the MLS season.
“It’s my second year now and I’m more prepared – I’ve been ready for anything that came my way and I think I’ve been doing pretty well so far,” Estrada said.
Part of that improvement, he said, goes back to some training sessions he attended for trialists prior to training camp opening that boosted his confidence once the full team arrived.
Working with second-year players Miguel Montano and Mike Seamon, Estrada was able to get his feet wet with the rookies in camp and saw right away that he was more comfortable with the MLS pace of play.
“I saw how much faster Seamon and Miguel and I were and that gave me confidence,” Estrada said. “The speed of play isn’t as fast as it was last year. I know the players and I know what to expect from them and that helps me.”
For Schmid, the biggest difference has been that Estrada seems to be much more responsive to the feedback he’s receiving from the coaching staff.
“Last year, we looked at him wide right and up front and he wasn’t quite ready, but he’s really internalizing the things we’ve asked him to do and he’s now putting that into his game,” Schmid said. “He’s simple when he needs to be simple more often and he’s using his energy at the right times and when he does that he’s a very dangerous player.”
The Sounders depart Friday for Florida, where they will train until February 27. They are slated to play four training games before returning to Seattle.