Sounders FC forward David Estrada was named MLS player of the week Monday, following his hat trick in Seattle’s 3-1 win over Toronto on Saturday.
The award, which is voted on by the North American Soccer Reporters, continued a rare run in the spotlight for Estrada, who spent his first two MLS seasons as a little-used reserve.
An increase in interview requests, congratulatory emails and text messages have followed his breakthrough – which represented the first, second and third goals of his MLS career.
Estrada said his Twitter account grew by about 500 followers in the first 12 hours after the game. Young fans requested pictures with him after a Sunday training session at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
“In my mind, that’s not what I work for,” he said of his increased public profile. “I work to improve every day. My mentality was to get minutes, like I said early on in preseason, and thankfully things have been working out. I’m more than happy to come off the bench, as I said before. And I just want to do what I can for this team, and I’m just happy for this opportunity.”
The first player-of-the-week honor for Estrada, a third-year pro from UCLA, marked the 14th time a Seattle player has won the award.
Estrada is the third Sounders player to record a hat trick, joining Blaise Nkufo (2010) and Lamar Neagle (2011). He also became the third MLS player to score three goals in his team’s season-opening game, joining Brian Ching (2006), a former Gonzaga and Sounders player, and Jason Kreis (1999).
The Sounders return to training today, preparing for their Friday night MLS match with the Houston Dynamo at CenturyLink Field.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer