MIAMI – He was handed what was probably the US national team’s toughest role in the 0-0 draw with Canada last week – an advanced central midfield role against bunkered opposition – and while his efforts didn’t translate to the scoreboard, Brad Evans showed enough intelligence and versatility to earn a prized ticket to Honduras from head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“I’m extremely proud and excited,” Evans told MLSsoccer.com a day after his arrival in South Florida, taking care to pay tribute to his Seattle Sounders coaches and teammates first and foremost. “This coaching staff here saying, ‘You can play a number of positions,’ I think that helped more than anything. It’s just a great feeling.”
In fact, he’s highly unlikely to play anywhere near the same role, if any, in Wednesday’s opening Hexagonal-round qualifier in San Pedro Sula (4 pm ET, beIN SPORT), thanks to what he calls “an extremely packed midfield” rife with European-based stars.
“You saw that just by the sheer number of guys that are playing overseas – Jermaine [Jones], Maurice [Edu], Clint [Dempsey] sometimes being in the center of the park, Michael Bradley, all those guys,” Evans noted. “So that’s an extremely stacked position, if not the deepest position that we have.
“With [Steve] Cherundolo being injured, I’ll probably find myself playing more at the right back position, which is totally fine with me. If need be, I step in. If I start, great. If not, I’m ready to be called on.”
While the US attack fizzled for the most part against Canada, Evans feels confident that he fulfilled the coaches’ directives and this subsequent call-up confirms as much.
“I’ll be the first one to tell you that creating a number of goalscoring opportunities isn’t my best option – it’s keeping possession, breaking up plays, winning my 50-50s, getting the ball out wide, because that’s what I’m used to doing [at club level],” he said. “When I look at my game and I look at the OPTA chart and the passes I connected, the way that I tried to link up – maybe I didn’t get as many chances on goal, but I thought that I got the ball to the right positions. That’s what we discussed before the game.”
Evans is no stranger to the pride of donning his country’s colors – he’s even done so in a World Cup event, as a U-20 in the 2005 Youth World Championships – yet he’ll break new ground in his international career this week as he takes part in a FIFA World Cup qualifier for the first time.
“Any time you get called up to the national team, it’s always special, and you always remember certain moments,” he said. “Like when you put on the jersey for the first time or step on the field for the first time, score your first goal, whatever it may be. So obviously this, the first time being called up for a qualifier, is something that I’ll always remember.”