Blaise Nkufo's sudden departure from Sounders FC forced newcomer O'Brian White into the starting lineup for Seattle's first two MLS games - both scoreless losses.
The Sounders could get another option Friday, when veteran Nate Jaqua hopes to make his season debut against his former club – the Houston Dynamo – visits Qwest Field.
“I think at this point it’s just a matter of getting fit and not doing too much where I overdo it,” Jaqua said this week. “I’m hoping to be available for Friday. I feel good. We talked about it a little bit. It’s just up to the coaching staff now but I would like to be available.”
Jaqua is officially listed as doubtful as he struggles to recover from hip surgery. However, his debut already is two games later than he wanted, and so he’s eager to go even if he is not yet at 90-minute fitness.
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“My target date was the first game of the year, but I think that was very optimistic,” he said. “This is more realistic. I think I’m right where I was supposed to be. It feels good. I still get some pain, but it’s something I manage and once I get going I feel good. I want to get out there.”
Jaqua joined the Sounders after he was left unprotected by Houston in the 2009 expansion draft. In his first season with the Sounders he posted career highs with nine goals and seven assists over 27 starts.
However, he made only three league starts last season because of abdominal and hip injuries. Yet when he played, he continued to produce, scoring six goals with four assists in 27 appearances in all competitions.
With the Sounders still looking for their first goal and their first points this season, coach Sigi Schmid is eager to add the 6-foot-4 target in front of the opponent’s net. But not so eager as to rush him back before he’s ready.
“He is an improved player over what he was when he was a younger player in the league,” Schmid said. “ He’s a guy we feel can score goals. He’s a guy we feel is a good complement to what Fredy Montero brings. He’s a guy who can get on the end of crosses and bring a little bit of that size element to us up front.”
Midfielder Brad Evans (hamstring) also is listed as doubtful for Friday. However, midfielders Steve Zakuani (hip) and Pat Noonan (adductor) are probable.
Tickets remain available for the Houston game. On Wednesday, the Dynamo acquired forward Calen Carr from Chicago in exchange for forward Dominic Oduro. Schmid’s reaction: “Eh, same thing.” Defender Patrick Ianni will appear at Elliott Bay Books, 1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, from 1-2 p.m. Sunday to help introduce Clare Meeker’s book “Soccer Dreams,” which is intended for young players and fans and includes tips from Ianni, Schmid, Zakuani and goalkeeper Kasey Keller. The Gorilla FC supporters group is holding a fund-raising event for victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. The event will run from 2:30-6 p.m. Saturday at Garage Billiards, 1130 Broadway in Seattle, and will include bowling and a viewing party for the U.S.-Argentina soccer match. Details are available at gorillafc.com.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer