Sounders FC

Sounders' high picks bide time, aim to show progress

It has been a tough season for Sounders FC top SuperDraft picks Steve Zakuani, David Estrada and Michael Tetteh.

Zakuani is out with what could be a season-ending leg injury, Estrada is working for playing time, and Tetteh was loaned out Wednesday to Orlando City SC of the USL Pro league.

The loan extends through July 10, although the Sounders can recall him if necessary.

Tetteh is a native of Ghana, who became a three-year starter at UC Santa Barbara and was taken by Seattle with the 20th pick in this year’s SuperDraft.

He hasn’t seen action in his rookie MLS season, but he played 90 minutes Tuesday in the Sounders’ victory over Kitsap in the U.S. Open Cup.

Tetteh played both defender and midfield, and on Wednesday, coach Sigi Schmid was asked which will become Tetteh’s permanent position.

“I think he’s still trying to figure that out,” Schmid said. “He’s a very good attacking left back. And he’s a good defending wide left midfielder. He’s got some offensive skills and some unpredictability in his play attacking-wise that brings some good things to the field. But with him, as all young players, it’s just a matter of consistency. But his potential is definitely there.”

The same is true of Estrada, who was taken with the 11th overall selection in 2010.

Estrada played a total of 88 minutes during his rookie MLS season and has added only seven more minutes so far this season.

However, he also started for the Sounders on Tuesday, and he hopes that this busy summer portion of the club’s calendar will give him more chances to show what he can do.

“In my case, I was waiting for this time of year,” he said after Wednesday training at Starfire Sports Complex. “I know a lot of younger guys like Tetteh and (Michael) Seamon were waiting for this time of year, where U.S. Open comes, reserves games and CONCACAF games. Hopefully, there we get some opportunities.”

Estrada played 53 minutes against the Pumas and wasn’t fully pleased with his performance.

“I really expected more of myself,” he said. “I’m trying to work on little things in training. I wanted to get some work in and hopefully improve on some things.”

Schmid implied similar feelings, noting that the club’s play improved when veteran Pat Noonan replaced Estrada.

“When he came in, I thought our game settled a bit, and he was able to find the ball in the wing channels, whereas before, Estrada, who was on the wing, hadn’t found the ball in those same positions,” Schmid said. “(Noonan) lays the ball through to Seamon, that results in the ball to (Mike) Fucito, that results in the goal. He laid (Nate) Jaqua through on a really nice ball. So he has that vision and that capability and the soccer brain that it’s great to have on the field.”

Meanwhile, Estrada is left to improve his learning curve and to hope for chances to display it when the Sounders continue league play Monday at Los Angeles, or when they resume Open Cup play July 12 or 13 against the Galaxy, or when they begin Champions League play July 26 at San Francisco FC of Panama.

Estrada has had to prove himself before. He walked on at UCLA and became a four-time All-Pacific-10 Conference honoree.

“I always make those parallels where sometimes I struggle and have difficult times,” he said. “There’s days where you’re kind of struggling a little bit. I just remind myself of how I came up. The same thing happened to me at UCLA: I wasn’t playing the majority of the first half of the season, and after that, I kind of went on a streak. I’m just waiting for the opportunity and just working hard every day.”

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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