Sounders FC selects UCLA's David Estrada in first round of MLS SuperDraft
Bruins forward was a surprise pick by Sounders.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Las Vegas is more often a place where dreams die and gambles are lost, but what the Sounders FC staff saw there last month led the club to roll the dice on two rookies in Thursday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
Seattle selected UCLA forward David Estrada with its first-round pick and central defender Jamel Wallace, a San Diego State product, with its third and final pick of the day. The pair of players shined at Sounders FC's team combine in Las Vegas last month, and Estrada carried his performance over to the MLS combine in Florida earlier this week.
Between those picks, Seattle took another versatile player, Villanova's Mike Seamon, with its second-round pick.
The three rounded out Sounders FC's 2010 draft class. Estrada and Seamon are viewed as players who can make a difference as forwards or from the wings as midfielders. Wallace, while more of a project in coach Sigi Schmid's mind, played all over the field in college.
"We're happy," technical director Chris Henderson said after the draft. "It's very important to find players that can play multiple positions, and we had that in a number of our players last year."
Versatility was also a focal point in light of the attacking, ball-possession style the Sounders play, as well as the heavier 2010 schedule, with more games than 2009 because the team qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Estrada, whose scoring numbers dropped off after a record-setting freshman campaign in part because of injury and a switch from forward to midfielder, was a surprise choice by many observers' projections. He wasn't even present at the draft in Philadelphia when his name was announced as Sounders FC's pick, opting to watch at home in Salinas, Calif. Estrada admitted he didn't expect to be chosen until the third or fourth round.
"Third round I was going to be happy with. Fourth round, I was thinking maybe I should go back to school," Estrada said. "To get my name called in the first round by Seattle ... I was more surprised than anything. I ran outside to my back yard, screamed my lungs out, cried my lungs out, just couldn't believe it."
Sounders FC wasn't going to get an immediate impact player in the first round, as it had the 11th overall selection. But Schmid knew what he was getting in Estrada, who came to the United States from Mexico when he was 4 months old and whom Schmid kept his eye on during his college career.
Estrada had to overcome a broken foot in college, and Schmid liked that the player had faced adversity.
"I wanted to see a little bit of that movement in the box and off the ball that I thought was so outstanding when he was a freshman," Schmid said. "With each game at our combine, he got better at that."
Schmid said the strength of the Sounders is down the middle of the field, and depth needed to be added on the flanks. He also considered size when choosing the 6-foot-1 Seamon, who led the Wildcats in scoring all four years at Villanova.
"We've added some people who can be goal dangerous and compete," Schmid said.
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