Seattle Sounders' Brad Evans "ready to push" for peak fitness, perhaps at left back, for club, country
SEATTLE – With about 40 minutes left to play and the Seattle Sounders trailing by a goal, Sigi Schmid had a choice to make.
Starting left back Dylan Remick needed to be replaced after spraining his ankle and there were effectively two options. Schmid could either bring in a defender in a like-for-like swap or he could slide back a midfielder and bring in another attacking option.
Schmid went with the aggressive choice, and the Sounders scored a come-from-behind victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
The player that made that possible was Brad Evans, who moved from the midfield to left back. Not only did Evans help keep the Union off the scoreboard, but he also picked up an assist on the equalizing goal.
“I thought he did well there,” Schmid said after the game. “That’s Brad thing, is versatility. That’s part of what we need him to do.”
Over the years, Evans has made a name for himself through his ability to play multiple positions, spending time at virtually every position other than goalkeeper. It’s what has kept him in the starting lineup throughout his Sounders tenure and put him in contention for a spot on the US World Cup team.
It’s not just Evans’ willingness to play out of position – he still considers himself a classic two-way, central midfielder – it’s that he’s proven himself capable of excelling at multiple spots, even when asked to move around within a game.
In this match, Evans said the transition was particularly smooth.
“Guys found me with space and the ball, that makes it easy,” Evans said. “I treat it as an attacking position, especially if we keep the ball – it makes it a lot easier. When you’re pressing at home, it makes it easy.”
Aware that he’s basically playing for a ticket to Brazil with the US national team, Evans still saw room for improvement.
“There were a couple times where their forward was checking off and their winger is hanging on the line, I need to tuck in a little bit and make sure I’m not getting caught with the ball slipped in behind,” he said. “A couple instances being a little bit smarter, that won’t happen again. It’s a little bit of a transition, but I feel more comfortable attacking out of the back, probably, than I do at midfield, to be honest.”
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Although X-rays didn’t reveal any break, Remick will likely miss the Sounders’ next two games. Normal starter Leo Gonzalez is still nursing his own injury and might not be back until Sunday’s game against the New England Revolution.
Schmid said veteran defender Zach Scott and Micheal Azira were both options to fill in against FC Dallas on Wednesday (10 pm ET, MLS Live). Evans could also be asked to reprise his role from Saturday.
Either way, Evans just wants to be on the field.
“I’m ready to push, just keep pushing,” said Evans, who missed four games earlier this year with injury issues. “Wednesday, Sunday is what’s on my mind right now. That’s another big one. I have to be healthy to be called into this [month's national team] camp – nobody knows for sure. Just keep pushing, hopefully put in a decent performance and just keep building that fitness and get my legs back.”