SEATTLE – Not only did Sounders forward David Estrada get his first MLS goal in tonight’s home opener, he wrote his name in the club record books with a hat trick. Only the third in franchise history. The vocal crowd of 38,709, largest ever for a Seattle MLS opener, were rewarded with a 3-1 Sounders win over Toronto FC.
Estrada opened the scoring in the 18’ off a cross from Alvaro Fernandez. After a bit of tussling in front of goal, two Toronto defenders and keeper Milos Kocic were still unable to prevent Estrada from getting the ball into the back of the net.
The young Californian picked up another goal early in the second half, scoring in the 51’ after capitalizing on a well placed ball from Marc Burch that found Estrada level with the Toronto back four and facing off against Kocic. Without hesitating, Estrada fired off the shot, leaving the visiting side to wonder “what just happened?”
Estrada earned his hat trick in the 63’ after once again finding space up front and in ideal scoring position. Again Fernandez was nearby to assist, and together they left the Toronto defense in tatters, threading the ball back and forth between them with Estrada ultimately drilling it into the lower right corner of the net
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid only had words of praise for Estrada after the match. “I remember watching him as a freshman at UCLA and thought his finish was good. We’ve moved him around him a lot but once we realized we would be short up front without O’Brien White we moved him back up there. Nobody deserves it more, his work ethic is unbelievable.”
Toronto’s Ryan Johnson helped them avoid a shut out when he scored in the 62’ on a solo run that exposed the weaknesses in the newly formed Seattle back line and left them looking as the ball sailed over their heads and into goal.
Play throughout the game involved heavy amounts of pushing, shoving and rough tackles by both teams. Toronto midfielder Torsten Frings had to be subbed in the 24’ after an otherwise well executed tackle on Osvaldo Alonso. Frings got the ball but injured his hamstring in the process. Alonso himself was awarded a yellow card in short order after committing a foul in the 26’.
When Toronto were able to get forward they plagued the Seattle defense, persistently breaking them down and getting thru in the box. The visitors accumulated thirteen shots on goal but only three were on target.
Both sides missed good chances, Estrada in the 28’ with a powerful shot that he sent right to Kocic and Toronto in the 29’ with a ball that bounced off the cross bar and only narrowly missed bouncing down over the goal line.
Seattle captain Mauro Rosales was body blocked late the second half by Toronto’s Aaron Maund when they were deep inside the box. And while Maund didn’t even get a whiff of the ball Referee Richard Salazar unbelievably failed to call a penalty, causing the home crowd to boo loudly in displeasure.
But the Sounders prevailed, sending Toronto home with their first MLS loss of the season. After being knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League earlier in the week with a 6-1 loss to Santos Lagunas, one of the worst thrashings in team history, Seattle needed this strong start to the MLS season. Toronto however where more successful in Champions League play, advancing to the next round after defeating the LA Galaxy 4-3 on aggregate. The Sounders next face the Houston Dynamo in MLS action on March 23.