Nate Jaqua has been in the 18 on the MLS roster lately, but most of his minutes have come from time in the Reserve League. Last year he came back from injury to win the US Open Cup player of the tournament. It was his performances in the Quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Galaxy (sound familiar?) and Chivas USA in the Semifinals. Both of those games were two goal performances at Starfire. For all of his struggles with playing time both this year and last he is tied (Mike Fucito) for 4th for goals over the last two seasons, 3rd for assists (behind Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero), 2nd in PP90 with 1.10 (Fucito) of players still on the roster. Yes, much of that has been in the Open Cup. Fortune has an Open Cup game tomorrow night.
Yes, it may be a secondary tournament, but it is one that Seattle enters intending to win. This is the 5th straight year in the Quarterfinals for an Adrian Hanauer led team, and each of the others also made the Semis. The back-to-back Cups have Seattle in the CONCACAF Champions League again. This is not the New York Red Bulls who are blowing off their Open Cup match and resting their starters.
Jaqua talked yesterday about playing at Starfire, using the Open Cup as spark for more playing time and familiarity with the Galaxy.
SaH: With the LA Galaxy up here for the Open Cup and last year it was one of your two goal games...
Jaqua: I enjoy playing on this field with the fans right on top of you. There's always a good atmosphere. LA is a team that we know pretty well. With some Reserve games in the last couple of weeks and playing them down there. I'm not quite sure what they are going to field, or what we're going to field, but what ever we do it will be a good fun game.
SaH: This team historically has put guys out in the Open Cup lineup that have people like yourself, Mike, who have started several MLS games, everybody expects to see players for Seattle who start regularly, maybe not always, but other teams don't take it that seriously. Today Hans Backe said he might only take 15 players total players for their Open Cup game. What do you think about that?
Jaqua: I don't know about that. Guys play big games on the weekends. Sometimes they think that you put in a completely different lineup in the middle of the week and you maybe get better results because you have guys that are fresh and what-not. But it is something we take seriously. We are a deep team so we can afford to do that, change out guys. It is an opportunity to play and a lot of guys are hungry to get in there.
SaH: With people such as yourself battling to go from 18 to XI does this game provide an opportunity for you? Do you think performance in the Open Cup can demonstrate that you are there?
Jaqua: Everything is performance. They are judging everything, practice out here. But yeah, any time you can get in games is a chance for you to bang the ball in the back of the net. I look to do that. Hopefully it will be me and Mike up top. I don't know what they are going to do, but we have a good partnership and hopefully we can continue on with what we have been doing.