Nate Jaqua has always had an adventurous spirit. After starting his career with the Chicago Fire he had a brief spell in Los Angelese before moving to the Houston Dynamo in time to collect a 2007 MLS Cup ring. After the season, he decided to set sail for Europe and find out what football life was like overseas. He was quickly snatched up by Austrian Bundesliga side SCR Altach, where he promptly posted five goals in 13 appearances. With success under his belt and freedom to choose his next opportunity, Jaqua spoke to ussoccer.com about his time in Austria and his plans for the future.
ussoccer.com: How did the opportunity to play at SCR Altach come about?
Nate: “I wanted to go to Europe in general. My agent knew someone in Austria and they were able to get me a trial. I had planned on going to check out some of the Scandinavian countries afterwards, but after three or four days of training they offered me a contract. I was able to sign a short-term deal, which would allow me to get a good idea of what Europe was about with having to commit too long.”
ussoccer.com: Austria hasn’t been a common destination for U.S. players. Was it a difficult adjustment to make, particularly joining the team mid-season?
Nate: “The transition turned out to be quite smooth. I joined the team during the winter break, so we had three or four weeks of training, including seven days in Turkey. I fit in pretty easily. They didn’t really have a target player up top, so it was nice that they needed me.
ussoccer.com: Any language barriers?
Nate: “Most everyone spoke some English. The coach talked in German, but spoke pretty good English, too. I didn’t exactly know what he was saying, but my role was pretty defined, so when he needed to make a point, he spoke to me in English.”
ussoccer.com: You've always been an outdoorsman, and found yourself in a place with some picturesque scenery. What was life like off the field for you?
Nate: “The region of Vorarlberg is pretty tiny. I lived in an apartment hotel in a town of about 3,000 people. I got a chance to go up to the mountains a few times, and I visited Zurich which is about 90 minutes away. It’s a beautiful place.”
ussoccer.com: You scored five goals in 13 games, so apparently you adapted pretty quickly…
Nate: “Yeah, I was happy that my finishing was good. Four of the five goals I scored were on crosses into the box. Half the time I played as a single forward, which was a little bit difficult since I didn’t get much support. Other times we played with a second forward, and I played underneath. That gave me a lot more freedom to get involved in the play.”
ussoccer.com: You’re out of contract at the moment, and you said you wanted to get a taste of what Europe was all about. What have you taken from the experience?
Nate: “Overall, it has been a very positive experience. I got a better idea of European soccer, and as well as what I would like to do with my career. At the moment, I’m weighing options.”