Player countdown: Evan Whitfield
How it all came to be...
Evan Whitfield grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and started to play soccer at the age of five playing AYSO with his friends in the neighborhood. By the age of five he was already excited about soccer because of a man named Roland Schroder. Schroder escaped from South Africa's apartheid and was living in Phoenix. He was Whitfield's first soccer coach and Whitfield remembers the excitement Schroder had for the game and because he had the chance to coach young children. Besides Schroder sparking excitement in Whitfield and his teammates, Schroder was able to actually teach skills and strategy to his young team, giving them an edge the other teams did not possess.
Still with that spark he got from Schroder, Whitfield took his career to the next level and joined Santos FC, a local club team. Whitfield was again blessed to have a great coach, Luis Dabo, whom he is still friends with. When Whitfield was 10 years-old, Dabo took his club team to Brazil and played in tournaments and games for a month. Whitfield was able to meet Pelé, who is said to be the best soccer player to ever play the game, and tour his home. This was a monumental event in Whitfield's life because this meeting sealed the deal in regards to soccer. Whitfield knew he wanted to play soccer for as long as he could.
While in high school at Brophy College Prep, Whitfield, who had always played defender, decided he wanted to score the goals from the forward position instead of stop the other team from scoring. In Whitfield's senior year at Brophy, the forward scored the game-winning goals in the semi-finals and finals leading his team to a State Championship.
During his high school years, Whitfield also participated in the Olympic Development Program (ODP). He was in the program off and on, sometimes getting cut from the State Team and this would discourage him. So, he wouldn't try out the next year, and then he would take a chance at it again the next year. His senior year, though, turned out to be Whitfield's year. He made the State Team, was a member of the Regional Team and finally won a spot on the National Team and played in a tournament for them in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Whitfield then took his talents to the next level receiving a full athletic scholarship to Duke University. Whitfield initially thought he wanted to stay closer to home, but a close friend from his hometown went to North Carolina State and this enabled Whitfield to move far away from home as well. His friend was only ten miles away and they could see each other whenever they wanted and it made the transition easier for Whitfield. Also, Whitfield loved the school and the campus was great. Another bonus for Whitfield coming into Duke University as a freshman was that RSL teammate, Jason Kreis, was a senior at the time and the star of the Blue Devils men's soccer team.
Whitfield finished his four-year collegiate career at Duke University with one goal and 15 assists in 75 games played and he was the force behind 33 shutouts. He also finished his career with an impressive four game-winning assists.
After his successful career with Duke University, Whitfield was selected by the Chicago Fire in the First Round (Eleventh overall) of the 1999 MLS College Draft but he opted to test the international waters instead. It was always a goal for him as a little boy to play soccer in Europe because when he was growing up there was no MLS. So, Whitfield went to Europe to attain that goal and had many successful tryouts. He signed with KAA Gent in Belgium for the 1999-00 season and after playing for just eight months with KAA Gent, Whitfield returned home to the United States. Whitfield describes his experience overseas as mixed success. It helped him mature as a person and a player and overall it was a positive growth experience for him.
In 2000, Whitfield competed in his first season with the Fire and he finished the regular season with a career-high eleven points on 2 goals, 7 assists for 11 points in 25 appearances. In March 2002, Whitfield suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee while playing DC United. But he came back stronger than ever the next season and tallied three points on a goal and an assist for the Fire. His last season with the Fire, Whitfield registered one point on a single assist and became just the seventh player in team history to appear in 100 MLS games in a Fire uniform on September 25.
His success with the Fire caught the attention of Real Salt Lake and was signed via a trade with Chicago Fire for future MLS SuperDraft pick on 12/30/05. Whitfield is happy to be a part of a new organization and he says everyone involved is very excited which has created a motivated environment for the team.
Coach Ellinger's Call...
"Evan was a very good addition to our team and we primarily play him as an outside midfielder or defender. He has great desire to be out on the field and we are glad to have him back after an injury kept him out for a bit. He can also get behind the defender and put some good crosses in the box. And he's got some bite to him, which is good for our team."
Field Vision: Midfielder Brian Kamler says...
"Evan is one of those guys in the league that I didn't want to play against and you knew sometime in the game that you were going to get kicked. Off the field he is very animated and a riot to listen to. Everyone is waiting for him to get healthy because he is an intrical part of this team."
Things you need to know...
Major in college:
Biological Anthropology and Anatomy
Most memorable moments:
Meeting Pelé and touring his home
Empire Strikes Back
The Works of Herman Hess
Favorite TV show:
Favorite athlete outside of soccer:
Jack Johnson, first black heavyweight boxing champion
Playing in the 2000 Sydney Olympics