Sounders FC welcomes three rookies to training camp
Sounders FC's three-man draft class of 2010 got off to a good start in training camp last week.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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he way Sounders FC's three draft picks looked last week, the first week of the team's preseason training camp, the biggest challenge they might have had was getting out of their hotel in the morning in time to catch the shuttle van to Starfire Sports Complex.
Rookies David Estrada, Mike Seamon and Jamel Wallace seemed to blend right into the mix of players competing for roster spots. Seamon won't be in the mix now that he's going back to college at Villanova to finish his education, but he got a good review from coach Sigi Schmid.
The rookies' level of play makes it that much more of a challenge to veterans who are also trying to make the team.
"All the rookies have fit in. They don't stand out in any negative sense at all. Sometimes plays don't come off, but they also make plays as well," Schmid said last week. "From that standpoint, everybody realized, 'Wait a second, there's competition here,' so everybody's putting forth their best foot."
Estrada, a forward from UCLA, is no doubt one of the most fit players on the team and reported to Seattle in very good shape. He had the top mark in the team's "beep" test, a measurement of conditioning in which a player runs a short distance, stops and runs some more, as if in a soccer game. Seamon, an attacking midfielder who perhaps was used to being the go-to guy in college, might have tried too hard in his week with the team to make big plays, but Schmid said he is happy with what he saw. Wallace, from San Diego State, is proving to be a versatile player who got a look at outside defender last Friday in the team's 11-on-11 scrimmage.
All three saw firsthand how much faster and more technical the game is at the Major League Soccer level.
"It's a more physical game and the touch is a little bit difficult. You have to adjust to the speed as well," Estrada said. "Making the team is going to be hard but I'm going to try hard every day."
Estrada looks to be well on his way after a week in which Schmid compared his fitness level to perhaps the best American player in the game, Landon Donovan.
Seamon was able to tell just how big a following Sounders FC has in the few days he was in the area, bigger than in many places he's been to. As for his teammates, he said everyone has been helpful.
But he also realized returning to school to finish course work for his degree in criminal justice was the best move in terms of his future, so that he still has something on which he can build a career if soccer doesn't work out.
Wallace, who was chosen in the fourth round of last month's MLS draft — Estrada was a first-rounder, Seamon a second-round pick — was on his computer when his name popped up next to Seattle Sounders FC on the MLS draft tracker. He already has his degree in public administration.
"I had no clue it was going to happen," Wallace said. "I was just real blessed to even get the chance to come play here."
The three were familiar with the huge crowds and passion for Sounders FC in Seattle before they even arrived to join the team. They went to charity function at a soccer pub in Seattle the weekend before camp opened and saw the fan support in person.
"That's what you pretty much live for when you come to play professional soccer, having all the support behind you," Wallace said.
Freddie Ljungberg, the Sounders FC's designated player and midfield general, has arrived in Seattle and is expected to report to training camp Monday.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org