2012 Mar 17

David Estrada breakout leads Sounders to a win in the MLS season opener

Seattle Sounders FC  3 - 1  Toronto FC

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

17' SEA: David Estrada
51' SEA: David Estrada (Marc Burch, Alvaro Fernandez)

62' TOR: Ryan Johnson (Miguel Aceval)
63' SEA: David Estrada (Alvaro Fernandez)

Seattle: Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (Roger Levesque 79'), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez (Christian Sivebęk 65'); Fredy Montero, David Estrada (Servando Carrasco 87').
Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Sammy Ochoa.

Toronto: Milos Kocic; Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden (Danny Koevermans 46'), Miguel Aceval, Logan Emory; Torsten Frings (Aaron Maund 24'), Terry Dunfield, Luis Silva; Ryan Johnson, Nick Soosma, Eric Avila (Joao Plata 57').
Substitutes not used: Stefan Frei, Ashtone Morgan, Reggie Lambe, Julian de Guzman.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

David Estrada had nearly all of Seattle's best shots and finished three of them for a big breakout in MLS play. That gave the Sounders a 3-1 win over Toronto FC in the MLS season opener for both clubs. With the Hawks Nest opened up, attendance was 38,709, a record for a Sounders MLS opener.

Seattle made two changes from their CONCACAF lineup, resting Jeff Parke and Leo Gonzalez, who were replaced by Patrick Ianni and newcomer Marc Burch. Both played well.

Seattle seized the initative out of the starting gate, earning shots in the first ten minutes for Estrada (too high), Fredy Montero (shanked wide), and Mauro Rosales (saved). Toronto's first chance came on a long free kick at 12', headed well wide by ex-Husky defender Ty Harden.

17' SEA: Estrada. The setup came when Estrada's through ball put Alvaro Fernandez into space on the left side. Fernandez' double cut left Harden on the floor. Fernandez crossed to the near side of the goal area. Estrada poked the ball off the sliding Terry Dunfield, poked it off the collapsing goalkeeper Milos Kocic, and then nutmegged Miguel Aceval for the goal. 1-0 Seattle.

Toronto suffered a big loss when midfielder Torsten Frings injured himself when he made a desperation sliding tackle to prevent what looked to be another Estrada goal. Aaron Maund came on for Frings.

At 28' Estrada had another chance for his second when he was sprung free on the left, but his shot was within reach of Kocic.

Ryan Johnson came close the same minute when his header from a cross tried to loop into the top far corner but was rejected by the crossbar. Last chance of the half came at the half hour mark when Rosales failed to clear a ball and Eric Avila got a shot, forcing a save by Michael Gspurning at the lower near corner.

Toronto took more of an attacking posture with a halftime substition, bringing on forward Danny Koevermans for defender Harden.

51' SEA: Estrada (Burch, Fernandez). Burch worked a wall pass with Fernandez up the left touchline and sent ahead a perfect through ball for Estrada's run. Estrada was a step ahead of his marker and beat Kocic to the near side as Kocic charged out. 2-0 Seattle.

Another header by Toronto's Johnson tried to find the top corner two minutes later, but Gspurning was there to palm it over.

62' TOR: Johnson (Aceval). Johnson took a pass from Miguel Aceval at the right touch line and beat an apparently tired Fernandez to earn an open path to the 18. Johnson curled a nice shot over Gspurning and into the top far corner, hitting the far post and deflecting in. 2-1 Seattle.

63' SEA: Estrada (Fernandez). Fernandez played Estrada into the left corner. Estrada juked a defender to work a wall pass with Fernandez, who had come to the 18. The return pass found Estrada unmarked and he beat Kocic to the lower near corner for the hat trick. 3-1 Seattle.

Toronto had two good chances left around the 70' mark. Nick Soolsma was set up for a 20-yard shot and lined it hard and low to the near side, where Gspurning collapsed on it. Koevermans turned away from his marker to get open for a 15-yarder, and Gspurning collapsed to make the leg save. After that, Toronto seemed spent.

Seattle had a good chance late when substitute Christian Sivebęk earned a cross from the right corner. Substitute Roger Levesque was the second runner and had a pressured shot but couldn't put enough on it, allowing Kocic to dive left and make the stop.

          SEA   TOR
Shots:     12    13
Saves:      4     4
Corners:    3     5
Fouls:     12    14
Offsides:   3     3

26' SEA: Alonso cautioned for a late challenge on Johnson
53' SEA: Ianni cautioned for a tactical foul
90' TOR: Maund cautioned for chopping down Alonso

Referees: Richard Salazar; Jeff Hosking, Mike Kampmeinert; Ramon Hernandez

Attendance: 38,709 (record for a Sounders MLS opener)

Post-Match Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening statement: "It's always good to start off the regular season with a win. That was something that we obviously had as a goal for ourselves. 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. Early on we felt they played with a high line and we felt we could get in behind them with running off the ball, which we did quite a few times. They lost Frings due to injury, that's obviously a big part of their team and that came to help us. Ryan Johnson scores a great goal and keeps them in the game and it was a good thing David scores one at the other end."

On bouncing back tonight after a tough loss to Santos Laguna: "Yeah, obviously we're still disappointed with what happened down in Torreon. When you look at that, like I said it's a 180-minute series and for 135 to 150 minutes we were up to the task and then we lost the plot somewhere. But it's good for us to get back on track, to regain our confidence in ourselves. Obviously, Toronto is moving on to the semifinal round. It would have been nice if we could have moved on and played them as an opponent. It would have been a good series. It would have drawn great attendance. But I'm pleased with the character we showed tonight."

On David Estrada's play: "Well, everybody thought he was maybe a bad draft choice, but I felt like if we kept him around long enough maybe eventually I'd get something out of him so I wouldn't look so bad. No, David, obviously we moved him around an awful lot and it made it a little bit harder on him, but at the end of last season I think you saw all of the sudden things started to click with him a little bit more. Then once we realized that O'Brian White wouldn't be out there for us right now, that we were short up front, we said, 'Look, we're going to stick you back up front. We think that's your best spot.' His work rate is unbelievable. Like I've said, nobody deserves it more in terms of the effort that they put in day-in and day-out. It's fantastic. I remember watching him play as a freshman at UCLA and I thought his finishing was good and today with one exception, probably the breakaway in the first half he could have done a little better with, but the other three he finished fairly well."

On the importance of work ethic: "Well, I think a lot of people have to look at that [Estrada's performance] and say, 'Hey, that's what work does for you.' You need 11 guys. There were a lot of other guys that did work today too. I thought Brad and Ozzie were great in midfield today. Ozzie did a really good job on Silva because I think Silva is going to be a very good player in this league and probably has a good shot at Rookie of the Year in this league and Ozzie shut him down pretty well. Brad kept us organized. So I was very happy."

On the decision to play Marc Burch: "We just wanted to get a little bit fresher legs out there. We played a difficult game down there [in Mexico] and it was a difficult game for our defense. So we wanted to make a couple of changes, but we didn't want to change too much. So Ianni, who I've always felt is a capable MLS center-back, so we felt he was the choice. Burch has trained well, has played well in the reserve games that we've played, so we felt him coming on and his ability as well to hit balls and be behind the defense is something that could help us in this game."

On Alonso's injury: "His was more a hit. Obviously the concern is when you see somebody go is it knee-to-knee, or is there something there. He's got a little bit of a bruise or a stud-mark or something below the knee. But he said it was more just bad contact and he feels fine with his knee."

On the fans: "Our fans are tremendous. Obviously we've got the right color uniforms for St. Patrick's Day, so that worked out really well. Although, I saw a lot of green hair in the stands - more so than normal. But it was great, it was great. The display that they put up at the beginning of the game with all the flags representing all the different players and the countries that they were from. Our fans never cease to amaze me and long may it continue."

On watching Estrada at UCLA: "I liked him as a freshman. I thought he had an ability in the box and the ability that he has is that if you take your eye off him even for a second he's in a different place because he works so hard. But it was just when he first came to us it might have been nerves, or trying to do too much, or sometimes you get into bad habits when you can get away dribbling maybe and now at the next level you can't get away as much doing that. So it was just a matter of finding that. But he's got four goals now in our last three games and it's great. It's great for him."

On Estrada getting to this point: "With everything in life people say, 'If I would have only known', or 'I could have done this differently.' You wouldn't be at the place you're at if you hadn't gone through all the experiences you went through. All of it becomes part of your character and part of your make-up, so if he had achieved it earlier he probably wouldn't be the same guy he is right now. So we'll just focus on where he is right now and not worry about that."

David Estrada

On if he has ever experienced a standing ovation: "Never. I think when we played in Vancouver during my first year I had a lot of people cheering, but it was incredible to have the whole stadium chanting my name."

On how it feels to get his first hat trick: "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."

On the three goals: "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."

Michael Gspurning

On if it was the reaction he wanted from his team after the loss last week: "It was exactly the reaction we wanted to have. It was not easy to forget the loss, but it was so important for us to win the opening game in front of our home crowd. It gives us a lot of power for the future."

On being in front of this crowd for the first time: "I don't have words to describe it. It is so great to be here and I am so proud to be part of the Sounders' family. Thank you to everyone who was here today and to the people who usually come but were unable to get tickets today. Thank you so much. I think the people saw that we did everything to celebrate this day today with the fans and the win. It is a great St. Patrick's day for us."

On the goal by Ryan Johnson: "I have to take my hat off to him. It was a great goal. I will see tomorrow if there is something else I could have done, but I don't think so. I don't think there was anything to do about it and congratulations to him."

Marc Burch

On his first MLS match for Sounders FC: "It was amazing. In the seven years I've played in the league it was the best atmosphere I've ever played in. The crowd's amazing, and our team is great. We have a lot of great individual players and we're really good as a team. We showed that at some points today. There's some things we need to work on, things I definitely need to work on, but I'm happy with the first game."

On his assist on Estrada's second goal: "I found Flaco and he had a nice little back-heel to me. And David was making great runs all night. I saw him curl and I just tried to put it in. I thought he might have been offside, but I was happy it wasn't. It was a nice finish, too."

Brad Evans

On winning their first MLS game: "It was great. A quick response to Wednesday - it was pretty embarrassing - so it's good to come out and put in a quality showing. I thought we were more aggressive tonight. I think we can play with any team, but I think if we bring the aggressiveness that sometimes isn't there, I think it puts us to the next level. I thought that was a key tonight. Obviously starting out with three points this year is big. All the points we can grab we gotta take, so this is a good result."

On David Estrada: "Obviously he's been here a couple years now and just hadn't gotten that sniff, but he keeps trying and he keeps going and was all over the place on the field. It's huge. Something that we haven't had in the past is that runner that's up top and that's good at getting behind the defense and can just wreak havoc. When you have that it disorganizes the other defense. Instead of playing in front of them all the time we have somebody that can stretch and bring players out. He found himself in good positions this game and finished three really good goals."

On moving forward: "Now we forget about this and now we turn our focus to Friday night against a team (Houston) that's on a good roll. They have two wins now and found themselves in the final last year, so they're going to be really good. They've got the same core that they've had the last three or four years, as well. It's a good, organized tough team-good in the air, set pieces are going to be key, but possession is something that we've always been good at. We'll watch tape and we'll take each game in stride and we'll try and get three points next week."

Toronto FC

Aron Winter - Head Coach

On the game: "I think if you watch in the first half we played quite well. At the end you got to force something to at least score one of two goals. It was very hard that we lost and I think that we didn't give them everything, that's my opinion."

On midfielder Torsten Frings' injury: "We had some problems of course when he went out. We'll have to wait in the coming days to see how bad it is. We tried to force things but we weren't able to."

On starting Milos Kocic: "We had to make a choice and we chose Milos."

Milos Kocic

On the match: "It's always difficult playing here and getting points. We had a great victory in LA and wanted to win two games but it's not the end of the world. We have to pick it up and play as well in the league as we did in CONCACAF."

On giving up a goal minutes after scoring: "Of course [it was tough]. We were done after that nobody really wanted to chase the game anymore. I don't think we had any more strength and were emotionally exhausted after that."

Ryan Johnson

On the game: "If I hit that header earlier in the first half it would have been a different game. Seattle is a hard place to play every time I come here. It's just one of those hard places to play I wasn't too surprised at the result but we should have been better defensively."

On being tired after the win on Wednesday against the L.A. Galaxy: "Possibly I can only speak for myself and I felt fine. I felt like my legs were fine. The coaches didn't work us too hard in practice so we were fresh. Every game we're ready regardless of how soon we played a game before that. I think we need to be true professionals and be ready for the next game."

Logan Emory

On the game in the back line: "I think as the game progressed we got a little more comfortable. The second half was in part better than the first half but we definitely gave up some goals which is something we're not proud of. There were times we played well but obviously there's a lot we have to prove."

On giving up a goal minutes after scoring: "It's deflating, even at that point we knew we were still in it and had to keep fighting. The game's not over until it's over."

Terry Dunfield

General comments on the game: "We bumped into a good Seattle today. We were watching videos and saw them concede six but on the day they were good and full credit to them."

On the starting lineup: "We did our research and I'm sure Aron did as well, unfortunately it didn't work. We gave our all today and like I said before we bumped into a real good Seattle team."