A Tall Order
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Nate Jaqua seems most likely to fill the void at striker with O'Brian White out due to injury.
In 2009, Fredy Montero and Nate Jaqua were among the most potent scoring tandems in Major League Soccer. The 21 goals between them was surpassed only by Jeff Cunningham and David Ferreira in Dallas (25 goals) and Conor Casey and Omar Cummings in Colorado (24 goals).
However, circumstances have limited the time the two have spent on the field together since then.
This week, they may be reunited at Qwest Field.
With O’Brian White having surgery to remove a blood clot in his left leg, Jaqua is a prime candidate to step into his starting role.
“I think I do a good job holding the ball up and if you can get Fredy into space where he can create, he can be very, very dangerous,” Jaqua said. “It’s worked well – we haven’t had too much in the last year and a half, so hopefully it will come together and we can pick up where we left off in the first year.”
Injuries have prevented head coach Sigi Schmid from getting the duo on the field together for extended minutes, and while he wouldn’t commit to that starting combination after training it is certainly one of the most likely.
In four matches, Jaqua has 102 minutes this season. Last year, he was limited to just 15 matches and 409 minutes. In 2009, however, he had his career-best season with nine goals and seven assists while being paired with Montero.
Now recovered from off-season hip surgery that limited his time in the early parts of training camp, Jaqua is geared up to reclaim his starting role. He has put in the work in training and even scored twice in a reserve game last Saturday. On one of those goals, he showed the initiative to take the ball from designated penalty-shooter Servando Carrasco, set it on the spot and smash in the PK.
“You can tell he’s hungry,” assistant coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We thought it was a huge positive because it’s a guy that wants to get back on track.”
At 6-foot-3, Jaqua provides a different dynamic than the other options at forward, which Schmid listed as Mike Fucito and Lamar Neagle. He also brings 168 matches of MLS experience – more than any other player on the Sounders FC roster.
Now he’s regaining the form that had him so dangerous with Montero in 2009 and earned him the 2010 US Open Cup Player of the Year honors. With White and Steve Zakuani out due to injury - both of whom had two goals and two assists to their credit in the first seven matches of the season, that veteran goal-scoring savvy will be a welcome inclusion in the Sounders lineup.
“I feel like I’m getting into a rhythm now, so hopefully I can step in and make an impact and help us win,” Jaqua said. “It’s a tough one and kind of a scary situation. We’ve got to bounce back losing both him and Steve and really come together and get ready for the game this weekend.”
The Sounders kick off against Toronto FC at 7 pm from Qwest Field. The game can be seen live on KONG 6/16.