The Sounders are off today. But while at training yesterday, we naturally asked coach Sigi Schmid about his situation at forward for the San Jose game Saturday, when Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins will be away with their national teams.
The first player he mentioned was David Estrada, who played in a reserve game Sunday, his first game action of the season while recovering from a left ankle sprain.
“There’s different options,” Schmid said. “Obviously David is getting closer. There’s Ochoa. Zavaleta we played up front as well. We can always push in Zakuani also. There’s different options. We’ve played Rosales up there. We’ll figure it out this week.”
Asked more about Estrada, Schmid said: “He’s hungry. That’s never an issue with David. It’s about being smart. He’s the kind of guy that you sort of have to walk him to his locker to make sure he doesn’t over-train. It’s tough for it to heal when you overdo it each day. We’ve got to find that right balance, and that’s something that’s more difficult for him. But he’s making strides. He got through 45 minutes OK in the reserve game, and we’ll see how he comes through this week.”
Asked about the play of Ochoa, Schmid said: “I think it’s been OK. He had the one chance there where he just didn’t get to the ball ahead of Ricketts. He made a good ball that he laid through to Eddie when he got fouled by Baptiste – so he was involved in a couple of our plays that were very good offensive plays. He scored a good goal today (in training). … At the end of the day, you’re a forward so you get measured on goals and assists. And that’s an unfortunate thing for all forwards, but you want to be involved in offensive plays for your team, you want to be part of the buildup, you want to be a guy who holds the ball up and allows others to join into the attack. And I think he’s done that, but the consistency – not just for him, but the consistency for everybody – needs to be better.
Here’s some of what Estrada had to say:
On his play in the reserves game: I felt good. I think that was the first time I’ve played 11v11 since I got hurt. So it was nice to just run around, get some touches on the ball. I feel good.
On if he’s ready for Saturday: I think I am. Obviously you don’t know until you test it. In training I feel good. We’ll see this weekend.
On not being able to play: It’s been difficult to sit … up in the suite. The team’s done well, and I think we’re going to have a really good team this year with the addition of Martins, and Ochoa’s been doing well when he’s been in there. It’s going to be a really good season. It’s been a little frustrating watching from the suite.
On if he can learn while watching: Absolutely. I think when you watch the game from that angle, you can see the movement of some of the players. I think Eddie does exceptional movement off the ball. Mauro, you see Martinez. … I just try to learn and watch their movement off the ball as well.
On if this is an important week for him: I think every week the last two weeks has been a big week trying to push myself. So we’ll see at the end of the week how I feel. But yeah, obviously going back home would be nice: see some family. But at the end of the day it’s just about trying to get back into the swing of things, hopefully make the 18 and try to contribute to the team.
On getting tickets for friends from his hometown of Salinas, less than an hour from the Earthquakes’ home stadium: I think they arranged that on their own. That would be way over my head trying to get close to 50 tickets. … Extended family and cousins and friends: about 50 last time, close to 50-plus. … It’s a blessing. A lot of those people have been there since I’ve been at UCLA, so they’d go there and watch me with Berkeley and when we’d play Stanford. For them I guess it’s a joy to watch me play. Even if I’m not there they’d go to support the team, so I think that’s really cool that they’re able to see this high level of play.