CARSON, Calif. – It's an odd position Brad Evans finds himself in at the US national team's January camp.
He's fighting to lock down a spot on the plane to Brazil, and hopefully the starting nod at right back. And at the same time, he may be grooming the player who will eventually take his place.
Evans solidified his reputation under Jurgen Klinsmann after helping the US through World Cup qualifying – his game-winner at Jamaica on June 7 being the shining bullet point on the résumé. That said, Evans doesn't play right back for the Seattle Sounders. But DeAndre Yedlin does.
Both are in January camp, which could prove to be just as important for future tournaments, especially for players like the 20-year-old Yedlin. And Evans says he does feel some responsibility for his club mate.
“It is a balance,” Evans told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “First and foremost, he’s my teammate in Seattle. Now we’re coming in battling for the same position. Obviously, I’m answering all of his questions off the field when we’re not at practice. I’m always going to be there as a pivot and cornerstone for him to come to and look for advice to see what he needs to do.”
Evans is well aware that Yedlin is charging fast, with the second-year pro and U-20 World Cup veteran already having the advantage of playing right back full-time for the Sounders.
“It’s very competitive any time you bring in some young guys who have done extremely well this year in [Sporting KC's Chance Myers] and DeAndre – a couple of good players who at any moment can spark a game,” Evans said. “Then you look at Geoff Cameron having a great year at right back as well. ... Those are always things that are going to be in the back of your mind, but you have to do what you do and try to do it to the best of your abilities.”
Evans started at right back in eight of the last nine games for which he was available, including five qualifiers. He scored four goals and had five assists manning the midfield with the Sounders last year, while Yedlin led the squad in minutes and starts.
Yedlin was not made available to reporters during the first week of training at StubHub Center, nor were a handful of the green, uncapped youngsters in camp. But while the Seattle native might lack experience, Evans said he more than makes up for it with familiarity at the position. Feedback, therefore, flows between Evans and the potential right back of the future.
“Him being 20 years old, I expect him to say, ‘This is what I would do in this situation’ so we can balance good information off each other,” Evans said. “That just builds good relationships. We can carry that into Seattle, where I’ll probably be playing right mid right in front of him. We’ll be interchangeable there and this experience will provide a good base moving forward.”
Realistically, Evans might be keeping the position warm for Yedlin as the youngster continues his ascension on the national team, but he knows a roster spot this summer is not yet guaranteed.
“My objective coming here is saying this job is up for grabs,” Evans said. “I still have to prove myself no matter what until the final selection. That’s my mindset and that will continue to be my mindset.”