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February 10, 2013 at 1:06 PM

A stop and chat with Brad Evans

evans mug 2012.jpgBrad Evans returned to Sounders FC training after a month with the U.S. men’s national team. It was an extremely successful stint for the 27 year old, who played a full 90 in an exhibition against Canada and then was part of the squad that traveled to Honduras for a World Cup qualifier.

Here’s a transcript of our group interview with Evans after his first day back…

* * *

(Did your time with the national team exceed your expectations going in?) “Yeah, I think everybody has certain goals that they set for themselves — first and foremost was staying healthy through the camp and kind of pushing myself every day. I kind of saw what Graham (Zusi) did last year, when he took advantage of that January camp and it propelled him to a great year with the national team in the regular fixtures. I kind of took it in stride a little bit and kind of put him in the back of my mind and said, ‘There is an opportunity for guys who are playing in MLS. It’s not just a closed door that everybody thinks it should be and only guys from Europe can play on the national team,’ and this that and the other. That’s not the way it is anymore. Yeah, it exceeded my expectations, but I also had those goals for myself in the beginning.”

(How was it getting back out there with the guys?) “It’s always good. … It’s like coming to the first day of school for the first time. You come back, you get excited, meeting new guys, there’s a lot of new faces, but it’s the same old stuff. It’s just good to be back.”

(Is it kind of tough having to get to know the new guys who have been here for three weeks?) “Yeah, whenever you’re playing small sided like this, 5v5, (I was playing with) three guys I’d never met before. (Learning) names on the field and telling them where you want them to go is difficult, but it’s part of the game, too, is learning new players as you build into the team. I’ll get the hang of it.”

(What do you take with training under Jurgen Klinsmann with the national team?) “Yeah, there are certain things. I think Jurgen puts a big emphasis on being a ‘Soccer: 24/7’ type of guy, so it’s the nutrition, the body maintenance, really diving into watching soccer, watching different positions, kind of seeing where you’re at, as well. For me, there are certain things I take away from the last camp — maybe the nutrition side of it, the body maintenance more than anything — but the practices are completely different. Doing the drills that we were doing in January versus what we’re doing now is different. It’s always good to play with other guys, too. You take away certain things, but not anything crazy that changes completely how you are. What got you there in the first place is what you’re doing at your club first.”

(Coming off a healthy and successful club season and now a great stint with the national team — being a part of the squad in Honduras — is your confidence at all all-time high?) “For me, it’s always been about the team first. I just want to see the team win. If that means I played in Honduras and the team won, great. If we would’ve won the game without me playing, great. Confidence-wise, I think there are certain things that you take away from it. It’s knowing that, ‘Yeah, you can play at this level.’ But there’s still work to be done, on both sides of it, and I know that I can get better. Just watching those guys, it is a cut above. It’s a cut above what we’re doing here, so there are certain things that I take back from that — whether it’s the speed of play, whether it’s the movement off the ball, little things like that that can kind of change your game a little bit and help the team out.”

(Shalrie Joseph is always a player you’ve spoken well of, so what was it like seeing him here on your first day back?) “Yeah, absolutely. Sacha Kljestan actually texted me from Belgium: “Shalrie Joseph?” I didn’t even know. I wasn’t in yesterday. Obviously a player that I’ve looked up to since I got in the league. For me, the top center midfielder in the game, got a bit unlucky in the way that things worked out at Chivas. I still think he’s a quality player that brings that certain element to the game. So any way that we can fit him in, I hope that we do.”

(What was your travel like?) “Not too bad. The team played Wednesday afternoon in Honduras. Fly straight to Miami that night. Stay at the airport. Fly Miami to Atlanta, Atlanta to Seattle. So travel’s been a bit crazy, but nothing that we’re not accustomed to on a regular basis here.”

(Did you get back in yesterday?) “Two nights ago.”

(What do you make of the changes this team has seen?) “I think it’s the ebbs and flows of soccer. You’re going to have a group of guys together for a number of years and then things end up changing. Guys have a personal preference that they’d like you to kind of take care off and expect them to take care of you. Jeff was out of contract and wanted to be closer to home. The club was good enough to send him on his way to keep him happy. The last thing you want is unhappy players on the team, guys who are going to look and try to get out throughout the season. So we start fresh. It’s unfortunate to see top quality players go, but we’ll bring in guys that are going to get the job done. And we will get the job done, no doubt about it.”

(Anyone is particular you were excited to see back here?) “Of course all the guys that I haven’t seen in a couple months. Everybody. One guy that I always look forward to seeing is Ozzie, but he’s not here today obviously. He’s gone, so I missed him by a day. … It’s the banter inside the locker room that makes things enjoyable. There’s nothing like it. I think that’s the thing people miss the most when they leave, just the locker room atmosphere that goes on. Missing guys, but it’s good to meet new guys, as well — some new faces. I’ve known Shalrie just from playing against him, but getting to meet him, getting to know his personality and things like that is fun.”

(Excited to go to Arizona, your native state?) “Yeah, I spent a little bit of time there in the break. I think I’ve gotten my quota in; I’ve been gone long enough. My wife isn’t too happy. But two weeks in some sunshine, it’ll be good prep. We start in three weeks, so it’s time to bite the bullet and get after it.”

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