When D.C. United traded for David Estrada back in early August, the expectation was that he'd play plenty of CONCACAF Champions League minutes and be serviceable depth here and there in MLS matches. Go ahead and check the comments that followed our piece on the news: No particularly high hopes for greatness, but there's also a lack of skepticism and negativity. United fans liked that Estrada came cheap - a 2017 3rd round pick - and they liked that he had CCL experience with the Seattle Sounders.
In the end, Estrada quietly became a regular for Ben Olsen. In the 19 games across all competitions that United played after Estrada's arrival, he saw the field in 14. His starting role in the CCL - he played all but 4 minutes of United's successful campaign in Group 4 - was no surprise, but that still meant he ended up making 9 league appearances and getting into a playoff match before all was said and done.
It's not hard to see why Olsen would take a liking to Estrada. His work rate is never in question, nor is his fitness (he was always a contender in Seattle to win their preseason beep test). He's fast and has very good balance, an underrated quality for any player. Estrada also gets himself into the 18 regularly by being able to play either flank as well as play off both a target man and off of our range of withdrawn forwards (in particular Eddie Johnson, a duo whose understanding from their time in Seattle appears intact).
He's also one of those guys who are just adept at helping the team off the bench, which is a mindset issue that some players just aren't good at. In the end, Estrada produced 2 assists off the bench and probably should have had at least one goal in Kansas City.
On the other hand, Estrada appeared less than comfortable in possession as a wide midfielder. On more than one occasion, his first touch let him down and killed a move forward, and he had a few too many turnovers as well. interestingly, these seemed to happen at a higher rate when he started matches wide; as a midfielder at least, it was almost as if he has an easier time finding the rhythm of a game from the bench than being in from the start. His finishing also left something to be desired.
Still, Estrada is making the MLS senior minimum and is capable of playing as an oft-used sub and contributing (as opposed to our 2013 use of subs, which I'd describe as "Well, you're here, and we can legally put you into the game"). Given a full preseason, he may be able to shake off some of those issues he had as a winger, and he's only 26 years old right now. There's still a bit of room to grow, and with United playing over the top at an above-average rate a guy like Estrada could be a handy weapon.
I'll leave it to you fine folks to make the call: