2012 Season In Review: March

David Estrada's fantastic hat-trick got the Sounders regular season off to a flying start.

Record: 2-1-0 in MLS (3-2-0 overall).

Top Highlight: David Estrada’s third goal to complete a hat trick against Toronto FC in the regular season opener.

Player of the Month: In five matches, third-year forward David Estrada scored five goals, getting one in the CONCACAF Champions League against Santos Laguna, a hat trick against Toronto FC and another goal against the Houston Dynamo.

The Matches: The season opened with much optimism as the Sounders topped Santos Laguna 2-1 in the first leg of their quarterfinal Champions League matchup. However, they ran out of steam in the second half of the second leg and fell 6-1 in Torreon, Mexico, to end the series with a 7-3 aggregate series loss. However, they were far from disheartened by the defeat, pouncing on Toronto FC and the Houston Dynamo at home to open the MLS season with two straight wins before dropping a 1-0 result to the San Jose Earthquakes, allowing the lone goal on a penalty kick.

The Story: The Sounders came into the 2012 season with many new faces and the opening month would come with many questions. Would Michael Gspurning be able to replace Kasey Keller in goal? How would Eddie Johnson fare in his return to MLS after an unsuccessful stint in Europe? Neither was definitively answered in the first month though. While Gspurning was great in four of the five matches, that 6-1 loss in Mexico left some questions unanswered. Johnson, meanwhile, was limited to just 19 minutes, coming on as a sub in the second leg against Santos Laguna only to have a recurrence of his hamstring injury knock him out of action for the rest of the month.

Estrada did an outstanding job filling in for Johnson though, scoring his first MLS goal and first MLS hat trick on the same night and providing a tireless worker to pair with the dynamic scoring threat of Fredy Montero at the two forward spots.

In the three MLS matches, the defense showed their strength, limiting the opposition to a penalty by the San Jose Earthquakes, who would go on to lead the league in scoring, and a MLS Goal of the Week from Toronto FC’s Ryan Johnson.

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