TUKWILA, Wash. — Splitting his career between Columbus and the Pacific Northwest, Brad Evans has never been in a position to command attention, a status that made him a selection for the U.S. Men’s National Team squad for their World Cup Qualifier in Honduras. For most Major League Soccer fans, Evans is a decent player but not somebody who was on their “USMNT” radars.
Watch Evans over the course of a season and you see values that transcend decent, Take his versatility, for example. Last season, Evans played all across the midfield. He played central defense and fullback. Within games, as Sigi Schmid tried to put Mauro Rosales and Christian Tiffert in their most advantageous positions, Evans filled in the gaps.
We even saw points where Evans became an outright attacking winger, as he did early in Seattle’s Aug. 25 win at Chivas USA. He’s 10th minute goal was one of four he scored last season.
With the acquisition of Shalrie Joseph potentially pushing the 27-year-old out of central midfield, Evans’s versatility may again be tested in 2013. Earlier this week we caught up with Evans to talk about that as part of our Three Good Questions:
You were a guy who performed a lot of different roles last year for the team, filled in where needed. What do you see your role being this year, particularly with the acquisition of Shalrie?
Obviously Shalrie is a tremendous player. [He’s] somebody who, when I first got in the league, was one or maybe two guys who I really looked up to and said if I can model a career after him I’d be doing pretty good. He’s a guy when you’re playing against you say ‘God, I have to play against this guy today. I’ve got to put in my best effort because he’ll make you look stupid.’
To have him on the team is a blessing because he’ll provide either depth or maybe he starts in a starting role and maybe some positions are moved around a little bit. But either way I’ve always been a team-first guy. Wherever I play, I play, and the bottom line is I want to win.
(AUTHOR: Even if that means putting in time at right back?)
Yeah, wherever. Put some gloves on me, man. I just want to win the game. Anything to make the team better is what I’m about.
Now that you’re a part of the national team setup, is where you play a little bit more of a concern?
The first thing they said was versatility is going to be key in moving forward with the national team. You’ve noticed a couple of injuries at right back, with Cherundolo getting injured. Maybe suspensions, something like that. These things are going to happen.
It’s better to be ready and be mentally prepared to play any position. Like I played in the Canada game. I started at center mid then moved and played 45 minutes at right back.
For me, nothing changes. My mindset stays the same. One week I’ll play center mid. Next week, I’ll play center back. Doesn’t matter. I’m going to prepare the same way. I’m going to play the same way.
It’s about being a student of the game, most importantly. Hopefully, it pays off.
All the West’s powers have had turnover this year except for San Jose, and they’ve got half their team injured, it seems like. How do you assess the West from your point of view, particularly those top four teams?
It’s tough to assess. Some fans will look at it [and say] ‘We beat Salt Lake twice this preseason, so that’s a wash. We’ll beat them three times.’ That’s just not how it is.
Teams get hot at different times. People will get healthy at the right time. I’m sure we’ll have our injuries througout the season.
It’s a long season. You try not to approach it and look at the big picture too much. We like to focus on this Saturday.
In the past, that’s benefitted us. We’ll focus on what lies ahead, and then if we get closer to Supporters’ Shield or regaining the Open Cup – wherever it is, then we’ll look at that when it comes.
Right now, I’d like to be focused on what he have here, try to build our team, and when we cross that path, we’ll deal with it then.
With Osvaldo Alonso suspended for the season opener, Evans will likely be in his customary central midfield position Saturday against Monday. He’ll probably see time at right back, once Sharlie Joseph is match fit in a month. You’ll see him play wide in midfield, and those one or two times randomness rears it’s mercurial head this season, you’ll see him in central defense.
That might mean his contributions get overlooked, but it also means he has a route into the national team.