Still scoreless, Seattle's Jaqua feeling pressure up top
SEATTLE — No striker wants to answer the questions Nate Jaqua answered on Thursday after training: questions about his lack of production.
But the Seattle Sounders veteran knows that the only way to stop the questions is to start scoring, something he has failed to do so far in 2011. Entering Saturday's match with Sporting Kansas City (10 pm ET, watch online), he has only one shot on goal.
“Obviously you want to put the ball in the back of the net,” Jaqua said. “You want to get more involved. A lot of it isn’t necessarily the finishing side of it. Last game, I didn’t even get a shot on goal. It’s more getting myself in good positions and when the opportunities do come, getting the shots off. Then the goals will come.”
His scoring woes are not all at his feet. Like all strikers, the 6-foot-4 Jaqua is dependent on service from the wings. With the one-of-a-kind Steve Zakuani possibly out for the season, Seattle has had to rebalance the way it played in the midfield. Zakuani’s absence, along with injuries to several other key players, has certainly decreased the frequency of crossed balls into the penalty area.
A spate of injuries concentrated in the wide positions has also cost Seattle, as midfielders Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans and Erik Friberg have all missed matches.
“I think we just have to play better,” Jaqua said. “When we play better, we’re going to get those opportunities. I don’t think we played as well as we wanted to against Portland. There were a couple times when we did [play well], but we haven’t played a full game the way we want to. The other one is I’m scoring most of my goals off crosses and getting balls in the box. The more service we can get, I think that will help me as well.”
This year, the Sounders have seen their attacking unit diminished, following the departure of Blaise Nkufo and the injury to O’Brian White. Technical director Chris Henderson has said previously he’s look at bringing in forwards to buttress Seattle’s the front line corps, but until reinforcements arrive, it’s up to Jaqua.
“I think my fitness is there, it’s just a matter of finding that rhythm,” Jaqua said. “That’s really how you start scoring goals is when you get into a rhythm. I feel like I’m getting into that so once I find the back of the net, they’ll start coming.”