renton – As soccer compliments go, “Landon Donovan-like” is one that draws notice.
Coach Sigi Schmid used that reference to Major League Soccer’s reigning MVP this week while describing Sounders FC first-round draft pick David Estrada.
Granted, Schmid wasn’t comparing overall soccer ability. But it still got the attention of those who heard it.
“One of the things I knew about Estrada was he was a pretty fit guy,” Schmid said after the Sounders ran through a fitness-testing session at the Seahawks’ training facility in Renton. “He can run the line. He can play up front. He’s active and keeps moving. And he definitely demonstrated his fitness (Wednesday). That was Landon Donovan-like.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Fitness isn’t all the club sees in Estrada, a four-time All-Pacific-10 Conference player at UCLA. The Sounders saw enough to make him their top pick – No. 11 overall – in this season’s MLS SuperDraft.
That surprised even Estrada, who thought his draft prospects were so low that he didn’t bother to watch the first round on television.
He seemed to still be getting used to the idea after reporting this week.
“As a rookie, you’re a little bit nervous,” he said after his first work Monday. “Feet were a little bit wobbly. ... Definitely it’s a more physical game. And the touch is a little bit more difficult. You have to adjust to the speed as well. But at the end, I felt a little more comfortable.”
Estrada is one of seven newcomers brought into Sounders camp. Also here are two other draft picks – midfielder/forward Michael Seamon and defender Jamel Wallace – and four free agents.
“I thought they looked fairly comfortable – a little nervous at the very beginning for some,” Schmid said after his first look at the new guys. “(Forward Tye) Perdido scored a decent goal off (veteran Tyson) Wahl’s cross. Estrada was looking to take on some people. Michael Seamon looked very comfortable with the ball.
“Wallace did what we thought he would do: just defend well. He was solid out there. All of them looked OK. They didn’t look out of place.”
Last season, the 2009 SuperDraft produced one starting player in forward Steve Zakuani – the first pick overall. None of the other three picks saw regular-season action.
That’s a reminder that nothing is guaranteed for the 2010 newcomers – from Estrada on down.
Seamon, the second-round pick, already has had discussions with Schmid about whether he will remain in training or go back to Villanova, finish his education and then return. That was the path taken by last season’s fourth-round pick, Michael Fucito, who returned to Harvard, rejoined the Sounders in the summer and is back in camp now.
“I’m definitely going to finish my education,” Seamon said. “I don’t know if it will be this semester or another time in my life.”
Wallace, the fourth-round pick from San Diego State, plans to stay as long as they’ll let him.
“I’m just trying to play whatever they want me to play, do exactly what they want me to do,” he said. “I can’t say if I’m going to be able to see the pitch or anything like that. I’m definitely trying to make it. That’s my goal: coming in here to stay around as long as possible, definitely try to make the first team and see what happens.”
Labor deadline extended
MLS and the players union agreed Thursday to extend their deadline to reach a new collective bargaining through Feb. 12.
The current five-year agreement was scheduled to expire Sunday, and both sides decided to given themselves more time to work on the new deal.
“While we still have areas of disagreement, the talks have been constructive, and both parties believe it makes sense to continue to work hard to reach agreement,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a league news release. “This extension provides both MLS and the players the opportunity to continue our discussions while clubs are in training camps preparing for the 2010 MLS season.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808