TUKWILA, Wash. — Nate Jaqua certainly doesn’t mind playing the LA Galaxy in the US Open Cup. The big striker, who’s Seattle’s most prolific Cup scorer, didn’t take long Wednesday night to add to his tally, needing just four minutes to put his name on the score sheet again.
Jaqua’s early goal fueled Seattle into the semifinal round with a 3-1 victory, pushing the MLS club’s all-time record in the competition to 9-0-1. As the team guns for its third consecutive US Open Cup, they owe a lot of the success to Jaqua’s contributions.
“We’re going to have to name him Mr. US Open Cup soon,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid joked after the win.
The lanky forward, who scored five Open Cup goals in 2010 to be named Player of the Tournament, scored both goals a season ago against the Galaxy during Seattle’s 2-0 triumph at the same stage. Wednesday against LA, the forward asserted himself from the early moments. Along with Pat Noonan, Jaqua was a primary reason for Seattle’s superb first half.
"I was able to get that first one early and I had a couple of other ones I would have liked to put away, but that's how it goes sometimes,” Jaqua said. “The bottom line is that we got the win and we're moving on to the next round."
Noonan and Jaqua, who combined for the opening goal, triggered Seattle’s attack in a blistering first 30 minutes. Jaqua just missed turning in a Noonan cross in the 23rd minute. In the 34tg minute, an unmarked Jaqua couldn’t convert on a stellar low cross from Osvaldo Alonso, who had escaped down the right flank.
Even against a strong LA lineup, Seattle ran their record to a perfect 7-0-0 at home in the competition.
“From the opening kickoff, I think it was evident how bad we wanted to win and how important this US Open Cup is not only to us, but the city and the [entire] organization,” said goalkeeper Terry Boss, who finished with five saves.
Seattle’s current 10-game Open Cup unbeaten streak is a record in the professional era. If the team can make it 12 games unbeaten, they’ll be holding their third consecutive Open Cup.
According TheCup.us, only 15 times in the modern history of the four major professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB) has a team managed to win three or more championships consecutively. Since the US Open Cup began in 1914, three other teams have lifted the trophy thrice: Fall River Marksmen, NY Greek Americans and Stix, Baer and Fuller (St. Louis).
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS