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May 1, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Sounders FC’s Brad Evans: ‘I’m back in the mix and looking to push.’

Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans has been given a clean bill of health and fitness as he looks to return to the starting lineup Saturday against Philadelphia. Reporters caught up with Evans after Thursday’s practice, and here is a transcript:

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(Are you feeling ready to go?) “Yeah, it was good to get two good weeks of training and not push too hard in the games and throw me back into the mix. I think it was smart to get a few good trainings and fitness sessions under the belt, and obviously the reserve game helped and a couple days of recovery. Now I’m back in the mix and looking to push, because we have three games in (nine) days.”

(We’ve always seen you as an all-out player. Is it hard balancing that being the only way you know how to play with wanting to come back healthy from an injury?) “Yeah, whenever you have an injury and you start to feel good, you want to push yourself a little bit too hard. I think we were smart about it this time. I think it translates to the game a little bit. I think you learn a little bit of patience. But if it happens, and you come on the field and there’s a 70-yard ball into space, you’ve got to go. There is no other option. From then on it’s catching your breath a little bit and it’s difficult. For me, I think it’s always been easier to start and play 90 minutes then it is to come into a game with 30 minutes remaining — especially the high-tempo game of how we play: it’s run and gun for that 30 minutes. I guess it’s a learned process coming off the bench and trying to make a difference, but my focus remains: I want to break the starting 11, and that won’t change.”

(What are the feelings trying to break into the lineup of a winning team when winning teams don’t often make a lot of changes?) “Yeah, you’re absolutely right, and that’s something the coaches talk to us about. Again, with three games in (nine) days and traveling across the country, there are going to be changes. There are obviously guys who can push those three and play 90 minutes every game, but I think when you look at our style of play, some attacking guys are going to need a breather here and there. I’m not sure how we’re going to rotate, if we rotate, but if my number gets called, then I’m ready to go.”

(Is this team playing at a higher pace than previous years?) “I don’t know. I’ve always looked at our team as a good counterattacking team. When I think years back, I always think that we liked to turn teams around. We like to get forward, especially at home, and push envelope and take chances, take risks. I just think that things are clicking right now. Normally you saw us as a team that uses the outsides more. I think now we’re going up the center of the park, so it changes the dynamic a little bit. For four or five years, we didn’t have a specific style of play, but we liked to use the wings. I think that’s how teams planned against us. Now we’re going up the spine, and I think it creates danger all over the field when you can do that. I still think it’s the same tempo, but I think we’re a little bit more effective right now and I think we’re getting more guys involved, too. It’s not just the guys on the outside getting a lot of touches. It’s the guys in the middle of the park, too. Being able to break teams down in multiple ways is what we’re doing in training, like today, and we hope that that translates into the game.”

(How much will the fitness of the team matter in this upcoming stretch?) “This will be the first test. That midweek game is definitely going to push the envelope, but we have a number of guys who are licking their chops. If guys don’t start that have been starting, they’re going to be ready to go when their number does get called. I think it provides a good atmosphere at training. When things are going well, it’s a little bit easier to say, ‘All right, maybe I don’t start this game but I’m going to come off the bench and start the next one.’ Whatever it may be. It’s easier for us to swallow because we’re getting results. We just have to keep that up and keep guys happy, but it’s a good group of guys. I think everybody is here for the right reasons. Most important, we all want to win games.”

(Does the team’s style of play affect your role on the field?) “At the start of the season, I found myself in the middle of the park, but that combination with Pineda and Ozzie has paid dividends. So if I find myself on the outside, it’s just building a relationship with DeAndre — obviously with Clint and Oba, as well. Obviously I’ve played a number of positions, so I don’t think things really change whatever position I go into. I’m going to play it as an outside winger. I’m going to play it as a center midfielder. Whatever it may be. From my perspective, nothing changes.”

(Did getting some time at right back in the reserve help at all with pre-World Cup set to start in a couple weeks?) “Obviously I guess it helps a little bit. For me, it’s always been a case where if I play center midfield, within the first 10-15 minutes, you’re playing like a center midfielder. You play on the outside, you start to play like an outside mid. That’s something that hasn’t been a problem, but it’s good to get reps. Hoping to stay healthy and have good performances and be fit enough to go into that camp and make a difference, if your number gets called. Right now my focus remains getting 90 minutes under my belt here, whether it’s at right mid or center mid — wherever it may be. That’s where my focus is.”

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