Photo by ISIphotos.com
By JOSE M. ROMERO
Seattle Sounders FC was dealt a blow Thursday with the announcement from the club that forward Nate Jaqua had surgery Wednesday in Philadelphia to repair what was termed as a lower abdominal fascia.
That's a lower abdominal muscle that has been bothering Jaqua since at least the start of training camp in January. The Sounders placed Jaqua on the disabled list on March 25, meaning he would miss a minimum of six MLS games. Now the club says that Jaqua is expected to resume training with the team in four to six weeks, which means he is likely to be sidelined for longer.
Jaqua has often been the target of criticism from Sounders fans who sought more offense from the 6-foot-4 target forward last year. Nevertheless, Jaqua started 27 games and achieved career highs with nine goals and seven assists in 2009, and if nothing else, his presence alone in the box had to be accounted for.
The Sounders, apparently wary of their need to add more of a big and physical scoring threat in the offseason, signed Blaise Nkufo, but he won't be here from Europe until July. The next move was to add veteran Pat Noonan, who must be worked into the rotation quickly and will be asked to provide offense in the absence of Jaqua.
"If you look at last season, Nate scored almost all of our goals on set pieces because he's the big boy we can hit and we don't have that target right now," midfielder Freddie Ljungberg said. "It's hard when we don't have players like Nate or someone who's extremely good in the air."
No doubt the Sounders' braintrust knew Jaqua was not going to be ready for the season when it began and figured that surgery and rehabilitation, with the chance to get Jaqua back at some point this season, was the best thing to do. But now Seattle, which is coming off being shut out at home last week by the New York Red Bulls and goes to defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake this weekend, is in need of another scoring option, and sooner than later.
Scoring could be increasingly difficult for a team so proficient at earning corner kicks as the Sounders are, since Seattle doesn't at present have a big body like Jaqua on those set pieces. Seattle must rely on quick attacks and good ball movement in the run of play to put the ball in the back of the net, and that could be cause for concern for Sigi Schmid and company for some time.