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June 4, 2013 at 3:13 PM

A stop and chat with Sounders FC’s Brad Evans during U.S. national team duty

evans mug 2013Local reporters got a chance to chat Tuesday with Sounders FC’s Brad Evans, who is in Jamaica with the U.S. national team for a FIFA World Cup qualifier on the road Friday night.

Evans, a right back, was one of the standouts in Sunday’s 4-3 exhibition win against Germany in a celebration of U.S. Soccer’s centennial.

Here is a full transcript of our interview with Evans:

*     *     *

(What was it like being part of that centennial celebration?) “It was a great moment for U.S. Soccer. Obviously we heard about the introductions before the game of some former players that had played for the U.S. team, so it was a big deal. And obviously playing an opponent like Germany was also something that was special. Finding out that you’re going to start the game the night before — I got a call from Jurgen (Klinsmann) just confirming that I was going to start — and the mind just starts to get into game mode from them on. It’s not just a normal game at that point. Like you said, it’s a centennial match, it’s a sold-out crowd at RFK, and it’s against a good opponent in Germany. It was a great test and really fun to be a part of.”

(Have you picked up on all the stories and mentions of you as a breakout player from the game?) “You guys know more than anything, I don’t really read into media hype and pay attention to too much that’s going on in the media. Obviously I keep up with (MLSsoccer.com) and like to reach out on my Twitter and everything like that, but I don’t read too much into the hype. I’ve always been, ‘You’re next game is the one that you’re remembered by.’ It’s obviously great to have confidence and know that you can play in that position, but there’s a lot of work to be done and I start have a lot to learn. The things I remember from the game are, missed pass to Jermaine in the first half, maybe not following my guy on a 1-2 in the first half, and then maybe a letdown in defensive pressure from my part in the second half. So I still want to learn the position and look over tape and see what I can do better. That’s the kind of guy I’ve always been, so I wasn’t going to step away from that.”

(Was there a pinch-yourself moment as you get closer to being a bigger part of the team?) “I don’t know. I was still on the alternate roster to start this camp, so not quite there yet. Obviously I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m not quite there. Just being around these guys, it’s definitely a different level. Each day is a learning curve. But the more that you play, and the more you just dive headfirst into it and put in the hard work, you see the rewards. I just came into this camp with an open mind. Maybe I thought that I was going to be playing right back in the Belgium game but came in as a right mid. That’s kind of where my head was at in that game. I had no inkling of starting in the game against Germany at right back until almost 24 hours before. So there is still a little bit of… not necessarily games to be played here, but there’s still work to be done. Like I said before, it’s all about the next game, so I don’t want to look too much into the future at all. I just want to focus on this week of training in Jamaica, stay healthy, and if my number is called on Friday night, hopefully turn in another good performance.”

(Who have you been leaning on to help you in learning how better to play right back?) “That’s a good question. I think before the game I had a good talk with Michael Bradley, who was one who came up and said, ‘The first couple passes, just get into the rhythm of the game. Connect your first few passes and then take your chances in getting forward.’ I think I took that to heart. Obviously Tim Howard in the back, his communication is something that I’ve never really experienced before. It’s constant throughout 90 minutes. It’s pretty incredible. Obviously rooming with Omar (Gonzalez) and staying with him, hopefully there’s a relationship on that front, and not just on the soccer side. On the personal side of things it might make things a little bit easier. All the coaches have been an extreme help. Before Jurgen called me in, he said, ‘You can do this.’ When your coach has faith in you, that sort of pushes you, as well, to perform in that position. It takes away a little bit of the nerves also. Martin (Vasquez) has been nothing but positive, and obviously I’ve had a number of email exchanges with Andy Hertzog in the past, and that’s all been positive, as well. On all fronts, I think it’s been a good learning curve, but like I said before, we’ll look over more video and see what we can do better.”

(“Development” is a word often used with younger players, but how do you think you’ve grown and developed in the past few years?) “I think I’ve gotten a little bit more mature. When we had this conversation early on in my career with the Sounders in playing different positions, I wasn’t too keen on playing right mid or right back, whatever it was. I wanted to really establish myself as a center midfielder. As you get older and you have a couple lengthy injuries under your belt, you realize that you just want to play, and that’s all you want to do. I can’t be choosy, can’t be picky. I don’t know what it is about player development at this point or the knowledge of being able to play that position. Maybe I was meant to play this position all along. Maybe it’s just that desire to be on the field. But I also think playing in the midfield helps out playing right back, and obviously playing on the wing this year helps out, as well. There’s not too much difference in playing right mid — the type of right mid that I play being more on the defensive side — than playing right back here. I think that Graham Zusi helps out a lot in that because he helps out so much defensively, it gives me freedom to go forward. It’s a good question. I don’t know if I have a good enough answer for that.”

(Have you been able to keep up with the Sounders from afar?) “Yeah, obviously I’m keeping tabs constantly, whether it’s phone calls or text messages with players, staff, whatever it may be. Watching games online. I watched the Chivas game on Saturday night. I didn’t get to catch the game against Tampa, but from what I heard, obviously the game in Tampa was a tough one. Anytime you have to travel across the country, it’s going to be difficult. You saw a number of MLS teams fall in that round of the Open Cup. A bit unfortunate on the PK, I think. If we score that PK, I think it’s a little bit different. But a great result at Chivas. Obviously the buildup to that first goal was phenomenal. A bit fortunate on the own goal, but you get a red card and you’re playing a man down for 20 minutes, and then it’s going to be a task in itself no matter who you’re playing. So a lot of work to be done, but after this next game in Vancouver with a large crowd, hopefully we’ll get a result and go into a nice break, get guys healthy and get back after it after that break.”

(Jurgen mentioned the possibility of you also playing left back. Has he talked to you about that?) “No, he hasn’t talked to me about left back at all, but if my number is called, my number is called.”

(Does playing right back with the U.S. change your view on wanting to play there at the club level?) “Sigi and I had this conversation in preseason. I think he had a lengthy (conversation) with Jurgen after the Canada game, and I think Jurgen said obviously — which it true — that this midfield is so packed on this team. There are so many players playing at top clubs that it’s so hard to break into. But with DeAndre’s play early in the year and obviously currently, too, as he’s going to (FIFA U-20) World Cup, we’ll see what happens when he’s gone. I haven’t really spoken with Sigi at length, but wherever the team needs me, the team needs me. DeAndre has done exceptionally well. I have no doubt that he’ll be here one day in the near future, as well, playing for this team. But yeah, I haven’t much conversation or even much thought about the club situation. The main focus right now has just been on performing day in and day out here.”

(You always want to take one game at a time, but are you starting to think about the next qualifier in Seattle?) “I think it’s phenomenal. I always remember those “firsts”, I guess you call them. Obviously the Gold Cup — first cap with the national team at CenturyLink Field — and coming in to a standing ovation at the time against Grenada was great. Came in and played right back in that game. Obviously playing in front of your home crowd is something that everybody loves to do. It’ll be a spectacle, that’s for sure. I know that we’ll come out in numbers, the fans will be behind us 100 percent, and I think it will be something very, very special, regardless if I play, suit up, whatever it is. It’s going to be a special night and I can’t wait to showcase it for the other guys on the team who haven’t played in our stadium or played in front of our crowd.”

(Have you been to Jamaica before?) “No. First time in Jamaica [Ed note: Evans attempted a Jamaican accent with the answer].”

(What are you expecting in the game?) “Yeah, obviously traveling for the CONCACAF Champions League games I think a lot of the situations — hotels, food, travel, training, whatever it may be, the weather — are much of the same. I’m actually used to that by now. It’s a little bit of a different feeling, but I expect a loud crowd. Obviously watching the last game, it was a packed stadium. Noisy, physical game, a fast-paced game, but we’ll take it day by day now and train. We’ve gotten here early enough that hopefully we acclimate by Friday night and get used to it and it’ll make for a good result. It’s a big game. The first one in a series of three qualifiers, and you always want to start off on the right foot leading into the next two, especially in the short window that those next two games are in. We get off to a good start in this and hopefully it will propel us for the next two games.”

(When you got the late call-up, did you think you’d still be with the group and making the trip to Jamaica?) “Yeah. For sure. Anytime your name is called you want to stick around as long as possible. I hope that versatility had something to do with it, being able to play a number of positions, whether it’s guys who pick up a knock during camp, whatever position it may be. There are still a number of players who are on the mend getting healthy who play right back, as well. Yeah, I wasn’t planning on coming home anytime soon. That was kind of my focus — if I’m going to be here, I’m going to give it 100 percent from Day 1 and see what happens.”

(Will you host your USMNT teammates at the Sounders-Whitecaps game Saturday?) “Yeah, as long as our flight is on time. I think we get back at like 3 o’ clock, so I’ll spread the word and see which guys want to go. I’m sure you’ll see hopefully at least a handful of players, and hopefully we’ll have a monster crowd that night, too, which would be really cool.”

(Will it be weird watching that game?) “It will be very weird watching that game, yeah. Absolutely. It’s different when you’re just injured and watching from the top, but when you’re playing host to some other guys and almost being more of a fan at that point, it’ll be strange. But obviously I know that I’m part of the Sounders, nothing has changed there with my club team. I’ll be supporting them, 100 percent.”

 

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