You may think you know the players, but how much do you really know? We sat down with midfielder David Estrada to learn all about his career, goals, and why he loves Charlotte.
Excluding Charlotte, what's been the best club that you've played for?
Obviously Seattle. I was there for a while so it kind of felt like home at one point. I was very close with a few of the guys on the team and it's a world class organization in terms of the fans, in terms of how they treat the players and just the facilities overall.
Who are some of the world class players you enjoyed playing with?
Fredy Montero, for me. Ozzie Alonso's always been the best player on that team. He's been voted MVP by the players five years in a row. He has a really cool story. Obviously Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin, Obafemi Martens, some of those guys just to name a few. There's been a list of them that I've had the opportunity to play with.
What's been the highlight of your professional career?
There's a lot of moments that come to play but I'm gonna say last year was pretty nice for me when my parents visited for the first time. They visited the east coast and were here for a few days. They don't take a lot of time from work, but they were able to make it out here and I actually scored two goals that game (versus Pittsburgh Riverhounds, October 10, 2016). Since I've been here in Charlotte and as far as I can remember, aside from some moments in MLS, that's been probably one of the best nights of my professional career.
What does it mean to have your parents out and play in front of them?
It's honestly the reason why you keep doing it. If you didn't have their support, at least in my case, I don't think I would have kept playing at one point in my life so to have them here and to dedicate a goal for each of them was kind of beautiful for me. I think they really enjoyed themselves here. For the amount of work that they've done, as much as I can as an adult now I want to give some joy to them into their life so for them to be able to be here was something that I'll always cherish and I think both of them will probably cherish for the rest of their lives as well.
What are you looking forward to in your career?
I'm just really looking forward to helping a team out, win a championship. I've been part of teams that have won a championship but haven't been really as involved as I could so hopefully being here in Charlotte, we have a group of guys that are motivated, that are hungry, and I think the club is doing all the right moves to get us at the best level. I want to win a championship in USL, but aside from that I want to be able to leave a lasting impression in the Charlotte community, whether it be coaching kids or doing events out in the community.
Do you see yourself pursuing coaching when your playing career ends?
Coaching or something involved with community outreach is something that I would definitely want to dabble in. Obviously you never know what happens and there's always curveballs thrown at you but I can see myself doing something in that realm.
What's the best part of being a Charlottean?
Just the fact that the city's growing. You see a lot of young people moving into this city. There's a lot of, I don't want to sound snobby, but I'm a little bit of a foodie, so being able to explore different restaurants is something that I enjoy here in Charlotte. Aside from what I do on the field, off the field with the team, I actually enjoy my time off the field as well. I try to go to events here and there around Charlotte, so that's one thing that I've really enjoyed about living in Charlotte.
What's the best eat in Charlotte?
I'm not into junk food, so Luna's Living Kitchen is by far my favorite restaurant in Charlotte. I recently had Your Mom's Donuts out in Matthews which is really good. Suarez Bakery's donuts are unbelievable. There's a couple that are vegan donuts around Charlotte that are actually really good as well.
What's the best thing about playing for the Independence?
Independence, the club in terms of USL does a really good job of relieving the atmosphere. Players get better throughout the season. Coach Jeffries does an amazing job to put together good trainings day in and day out. That's one of the reasons I came back. As a player, you want to keep getting better, and if I was gonna come here and feel like I wasn't getting better, then that's probably not where I want to be. I'm challenged day in and day out. That's what you enjoy about playing this game, you grow as a play on and off the field. This organization does that for the players.
Do the fans ever surprise or overwhelm you?
The fact that they made a song for me is something that I cherish. It's actually a good tune and that's something that kind of motivates you. It becomes white noise at one point, but you still kind of hear it and you enjoy it and even out in warm ups, it kind of motivates you to give that extra push when you might be a little bit tired. It's a growing fanbase. Hopefully the people that come out enjoy themselves and we put a winning product on the field and it keeps growing. I think we're in our early stages, especially now with Matthews opening, but I think it's a bright future ahead for this club.
What do you wish Charlotteans would do more?
Charlotte surprised me this past year with the trails that kind of go along from South Park all the way into Uptown. Get out more, get out in the parks. Overall, North Carolina is a beautiful state and I like to go out and do hikes. To be able to go and walk all the way to Uptown is a plus for me - or bike, or just jog. It's something, for me, that is enjoyable. I think the more people get out, the more they see how beautiful the world really is. Especially right now with so many negative things in the media.
What are the best places you've hiked?
Grandfather Mountain is probably one of the coolest things I did. I did it on my own. I actually went out there and camped on my own, the first time doing it. It was a little bit scary but it was one of those moments where you either regret that you didn't do it or you're gonna be grateful that you did and thankfully it was one of those moments where I was grateful that I did go out. I just drove out and camped and hiked the next day, early in the morning, saw the sunset.