Sounders FC’s high-profile signing of Swiss striker Blaise Nkufo last week was widely viewed as bad news for incumbent forward Nate Jaqua.
However, Jaqua said Sunday he doesn’t see it that way.
“We just signed another attacking force,” Jaqua said. “It’s good to add another quality player. If it increases competition up front and people are fighting for spots, that’s good. … We need more attacking options, especially another person up front with some size.”
When the signing was announced Thursday, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Nkufo will be stationed in front of the opponent’s goal, and he described Nkufo as a player with size and good skills who can hold the ball and get to crossing passes.
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That sounds like Jaqua’s job description last season, when he started 27 games and finished second on the club with nine goals, tied for second with seven assists and tied for the lead with 47 fouls committed.
However, Schmid implied Sunday that versatility and depth will be crucial during the busy 2010 schedule, which will include the club’s CONCACAF Champions League debut, defense of its U.S. Open Cup title, and 30 Major League Soccer regular-season games squeezed into a World Cup-compressed season.
“There’s going to be enough playing time for everybody,” he said.
While Jaqua spent most of last season offering a big target on the front line, he also sometimes played midfielder. He said he’s willing to do that again.
For now, neither player is available. Nkufo will join the Sounders in mid-July, after he finishes duty with Holland’s FC Twente and the Switzerland national team ends its World Cup run.
Jaqua is recovering from a repetitive stress injury in his lower body. He wants to be in uniform March 25 when the Sounders open the MLS season against the Philadelphia Union at Qwest.
“I probably won’t be 90-minutes fit,” he said. “But hopefully I can at least be an option on the bench.”
After today off, the Sounders will practice Tuesday at Qwest Field to prepare for their Thursday friendly against the second-division Portland Timbers. … Schmid’s opinion of his team’s scoreless draw at Vancouver on Saturday didn’t change after a night’s sleep and watching a game recording: solid defense, missed opportunities on offense. “Overall, our movement of the ball (and) our spacing was not as good as I want it to be.”