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October 7, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Estrada overcomes nerves in long-awaited MLS action

estrada mug.jpg175 days.

That’s how long David Estrada had to wait between MLS appearances this season. The first game for the second-year Sounders FC midfielder was on April 2 in San Jose.

The second came Sept. 24 in Vancouver, where he entered a crucial Cascadia Cup match in the 80th minute to help protect a 3-1 lead.

“In the beginning I was a little bit nervous, but once I connected that first pass it all kind of slowed down a little bit,” Estrada said. “I was just excited to get out there and contribute to a win — that’s what I wanted to do is win.”

The Salinas, Calif., native wouldn’t have to wait long to contribute again. He started and played all 90 minutes in Saturday’s 2-1 win in New England. The recent influx in game action has had Estrada’s phone buzzing with congratulatory texts and calls, and has also lifted confidence.

“This last month has been so good for the team and personally it’s been good for me, too,” said the 23-year-old. “I was able to play in Vancouver — to be able to play in a derby is something I wanted to do this year — and to go up there and win, and then to go to Guatemala and get the tie to go onto the next round, and then winning in New England, it’s just been great.”

Coach Sigi Schmid praised the 23-year-old sticktoitiveness.

“Being on this team is really important to him,” said Schmid, “and he’ll do whatever he needs to do and whatever role you sort of give him. It’s difficult for anyone when you’re not playing, but he’s a guy who’s always going to give his honest effort every time he steps on the field. In New England, I thought he had a very good game for us and did well — ended up going 90 minutes in an important game for us, as well. I’m really proud of that, because that’s something that’s difficult. Obviously that weighs on my mind as you look at things for next year.”

If Estrada was frustrated by not seeing first-team playing time during the summer, he didn’t show it. His positive approach even had him seeing time at right back for a while.

“It’s hard to get on the 18; it’s such a deep team,” said the UCLA product. “I always look at the guys playing in front of me and I could never get discouraged when I’m playing behind Mauro Rosales, Alvaro Fernandez, Lamar Neagle has been doing well. So when you look at guys like that, you become motivated more to be at their level. If anything I’m more encouraged by playing with guys like that.”

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