SEATTLE – David Estrada had seen small ovations from crowds before in his two years playing for the Sounders FC.
On Saturday night, with an opening night club record of 38,709 at CenturyLink Field, they were all chanting his name as he scored the club’s third ever hat trick to send the Sounders to a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC.
The third-year forward from UCLA scored in the 17th minute, then added his second in the 51st minute and completed the hat trick in the 63rd minute, giving Seattle their third opening night win in four MLS seasons.
“It’s always good to start off the regular season with a win,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Whenever a guy gets a hat-trick like David Estrada got tonight, a great performance for him, but our team tactically did what we wanted to do.”
Estrada opened up the scoring in the 17th minute when Alvaro Fernandez pushed up the left side, juked his defender, then rolled it in the box to Estrada at the near post. He eluded Miguel Aceval, who got a touch to the ball to push it toward the top of the six-yard box, then Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic tried to snag it off the feet of Estrada, but he evaded Kocic, too. Then he fired a shot into the back of the net for his first MLS goal, giving Seattle the 1-0 lead.
Toronto nearly pulled one back in the 28th minute, but a header from Ryan Johnson hit off the crossbar and Patrick Ianni cleared the ball away from danger and Seattle held on to their 1-0 advantage for the rest of the half.
Estrada extended the lead in the 51st minute when Marc Burch sent a ball over the top of the Toronto defense and Estrada raced out on the breakaway. He pulled up in the box to wait for Kocic to commit, then put it past him for his second goal of the night and a 2-0 lead.
Johnson made good on his earlier misfortune in the 62nd minute when he dribbled up the right side, cut to his left foot and curled a shot inside the far post to bring the score back to 2-1.
The goal drew theatrical praise from Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning after the match, who reached into his locker and grabbed rave green fedora when he was asked about the goal.
“I have to take my hat off to him,” Gspurning said, tipping the hat off his head. “It was a great goal. I will see tomorrow if there is something else I could have done, but I don’t think so.”
Toronto’s hopes to bounce back didn’t last long though, as Estrada completed the hat trick in the 63rd minute on a great 1-2 with Fernandez. He got the ball on the left side of the box, played it back to Fernandez at the top of the box, then darted behind the defense to take the pass back from the Uruguayan midfielder, then hammered it past Kocic for the goal, giving the Sounders a boost to 3-1.
“It was unbelievable,” Estrada said. “I am just thankful that I have the teammates I have. I am happy to have the players that I get to play with every day.”
Estrada is the third Sounder to register a hat trick. Blaise Nkufo had the first in Columbus in 2010 and Lamar Neagle had the second at CenturyLink Field against Columbus in 2011.
The Sounders will host the Houston Dynamo on Friday in a nationally televised match on NBC Sports. The local radio broadcast will also be on 97.3 KIRO FM.
Sounders FC – David Estrada 17; David Estrada (Marc Burch, Alvaro Fernandez) 51; David Estrada (Alvaro Fernandez) 63.
Toronto FC – Ryan Johnson (Miguel Aceval) 62.
Sounders FC – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 26; Patrick Ianni (caution) 53.
Toronto FC – Aaron Maund (caution) 93+.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mauro Rosales (Roger Levesque 79), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Christian Sivebæk 65), Fredy Montero, David Estrada (Servando Carrasco 87).
Toronto FC – Milos Kocic, Logan Emory, Ty Harden (Danny Koevermans 46), Miguel Aceval, Richard Eckersley, Torsten Frings (Aaron Maund 24), Eric Avila (Joao Plata 57), Terry Dunfield, Luis Silva, Ryan Johnson, Nick Soolsma.