Put into context, David Estrada wasn't with the Orange County Blues for very long in 2015. But the veteran slotted into the team straight away and never looked back.
The Blues lost just two of the eight games (including the playoffs) in which Estrada played, joining in August after spending the first part of the season with fellow USL team Sacramento Republic, and he was a fixture in the lineup, for good reason.
Put simply, Estrada was effective at linking up the midfield and forwards for the Blues, and his workrate on defense was one of the best assets of his game on a team where everyone needed to do their part in pressuring the opponent. On a team with a lot of standout performers, he probably didn't play enough to really be in contention for team MVP, but Estrada's impact was that significant that considering him was not out of the question.
Here were Estrada's statistics with the Blues in 2015:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||7||6||547||0||3||7||2||0||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
When Estrada spoke to The Goat Parade after a game this season, he talked about how much he enjoyed playing soccer again with Orange County. This was a guy who was a squad player on a couple of pretty successful MLS teams in the Seattle Sounders and D.C. United, and while it seemed like he'd be a great fit for Sacramento, it didn't fully work out that way. With OC, no longer being forced to play up top, he showed a new side of his game and helped the Blues to their best season in club history.
Estrada is still just 27, and given the tweak in his position with the Blues, it's entirely possible he could get another look by an MLS team. He's got the kind of experience that could be tempting to a team, and if he gets that chance, you can't really begrudge him.
But this was a signing that pretty much exceeded expectations, and there's no reason to believe he'd have a drop-off with a full season in Orange County. He seemed to like his time with the club, the team built chemistry with him in record time, and success was reached on both sides. Here's hoping Estrada is one of the building blocks for the Blues in 2016, as they look to build to even greater accomplishments.
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