The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
David Estrada scored all three of the Seattle goals as the Sounders FC won their 2012 Major League Soccer opener before nearly 39,000 fans at CenturyLink Field on Saturday night, besting Toronto FC 3:1.
“It was unbelievable. 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.” -–David Estrada
SEATTLE - (Sounders Press Release) David Estrada scored his first three MLS goals as Sounders FC beat Toronto FC, 3-1, in Seattle’s league opener in front of a record crowd of 38,709 on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
Estrada became the third player in MLS history to score a hat trick in the club’s opening game of the MLS season. His three-goal effort was the third hat trick in club history and first in MLS this season. Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez was involved in all three scores, recording two assists.
Estrada put Seattle ahead early with a goal in the 17th minute. Alvaro Fernandez cut across his defender after beating him down the left flank, allowing the Uruguayan to center a cross. The ball deflected off a Toronto FC defender and, after a scramble in the box, Estrada poked the ball past goalkeeper Mils Kocic for the game’s first goal.
Estrada and Fernandez combined again for the second goal in the 51st minute. Defender Marc Burch, who made his MLS debut for the club, led Estrada up the left side and the third-year striker finished into the far side of the net.
The assist marked Burch’s first for the club and first since March 19, 2011, versus Columbus Crew.
Estrada completed the hat trick just moments after Toronto’s lone goal. After weaving through the Reds’ defender on the left flank, he played a give-and-go with Fernandez and finished past Kocic.
Estrada has now scored four goals in his first two home starts, including the first tally against Santos Laguna on March 7. He has scored four of Seattle’s six goals in all competitions this season.
Fernandez recorded two assists for the first time in his MLS career.
Estrada’s hat trick was the third in club history, including Lamar Neagle versus the Columbux Crew (8/27/2011) and Blaise Nkufo at Columbus (9/18/2010)
Ryan Johnson scored for Toronto in the 62nd minute on an impressive strike from 20-yards out. Johnson dribbled up the right side, cut toward the middle and rocketed a shot to the far upper corner.
Johnson had several scoring opportunities throughout the match, most notably a headed attempt that hit the crossbar in the 28th minute.
Estrada nearly added to his total with two other strong chances. In the 23rd minute he got behind the Toronto backline and ran onto a loose ball but defender Torsten Frings was able to make a sliding tackle from behind to force a corner kick. Five minutes later, Estrada made a long run and had a one-on-one opportunity with the keeper but Kocic made the save.
Toronto’s Frings left the game with a hamstring injury in the 23rd minute.
The win marks the first for Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, making two saves on the night. Gspurning punched Johnson’s header over the crossbar in the 53rd minute and denied Danny Koevermans in the 71st minute.
Along with Gspurning, Danish midfielder Christian Sivebaek made his MLS debut, entering for Fernandez in the 65th minute. Sivebaek served a cross to Roger Levesque in the 85th minute but Levesque’s shot was saved by a diving Kocic.
Seattle improves to 3-1-0 in MLS openers and holds a 5-1-1 record against Toronto in MLS play. Sounders FC has won their last four meetings with Toronto FC.
The crowd of 38,709 was the biggest opening day attendance in franchise history.
Sounders FC continue a three-game home stand on Friday, March 23 against the Houston Dynamo. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
David Estrada quotes:
“They were going to step up high so I knew there was going to be some space behind them. I was very mad that I wasn’t able to put away two chances that I had early on. Luckily in the second half I had two go in.”
(On the last time Estrada has scored a hat trick…) “So long ago – most likely in high school. I had two goals the semi-finals, but that is the most I had in college. It has been a long time.”
(On how far he has come since last season…) “It has been a long time coming. Like I said, I am just so thankful for the players around me. I started to put myself down a little after last year, but they are always right there to pick me back up. It has been a long time coming.”
(On what his grandfather means to him and why he used him in his celebration…) “I never met him, but he is a big influence in my family and me playing soccer. He is big time in my life. I never met him, but he is just so important to me and my family. My extended family back home plays for a Sunday league team named after him. So using him in my celebration is like a double meaning between playing with my family and playing here with the Sounders.”