STANFORD, Calif. – Brad Evans can read a roster just well as anybody else. So the Seattle Sounders veteran knows exactly what kind of competition he’s facing in terms of making the United States’ World Cup roster as a right back.
Timothy Chandler is back from 15 months in the national-team wilderness. Michael Parkhurst is starring for Columbus. Geoff Cameron has grown in stature at Stoke City. Fabian Johnson is on the record saying if he makes the US squad, he expects it to be as an outside defender. Even youngster DeAndre Yedlin, who mans the right back position for the Sounders, is on hand at the Americans’ training camp.
“Yeah, for sure,” Evans told reporters on Sunday before training when asked if right back was the most wide-open position on the US squad. “Just look at the roster, there’s probably at least six guys that can really play that position and can do it well and who have done it before. So it adds good competition. It adds a real onus on yourself to put in the work every day, take care of the body, make sure you’re doing everything right. ...
“You don’t want to give yourself a chance of looking back and saying, ‘I should have done this’ or ‘I should have done that.’ Every day is a battle.”
So, is it motivational or daunting to face those kind of odds in trying to make a dream come true?
“It’s motivation,” Evans said. “For me personally, the ride has been a complete ascent, from getting called in at the last second to playing in World Cup qualifiers. I feel like I’ve been privileged, but at the same time, I’m still hungry. Once you get that taste, you want more, more, more.”
One major obstacle in Evans’ way is Chandler, who was banished from the national team after starting in the Americans’ 2-1 defeat at Honduras to begin Hexagonal play in February 2013. Despite not featuring for the Americans after that cap-tying experience – and suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee in February – the German-American is on hand at Stanford. And with almost 100 appearances in the Bundesliga, Chandler can talk up his experience despite only being 24 years old.
“I was very sad because of my injury,” Chandler told reporters on Sunday. “I didn’t know how long it would take [to recover]. But I think I’ve come back very fast. Now I’m pretty happy to be here.”
To some extent, the competition at right back will depend on how other dominos fall. If Klinsmann in fact decides to use Johnson in the midfield, the equation changes; the same is true if Cameron is seen as more of central defender than an outside option.
“I deal with it every single day,” Cameron said of the positional uncertainty. “For me, it’s just going in with the mentality of, ‘Any way I can help the team.’ This is a World Cup. Any way I can help the USA, I’m going to do that. Whether it’s playing right back, center back of whatever, I’m up for it and ready to go.”