Anyway, anyhow, anywhere
Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid is facing a harsh reality about
opening day. He is also charging at that reality head-on, without any
sign of slowing.
James Riley will miss MLS First Kick because he received a
red-card ejection late in the Sounders FC’s 1-0 loss to the Houston
Dynamo in the first round MLS Cup playoffs. That leaves the starting
right back job open for the Game One, but Schmid has a very viable
option waiting in the wings in midfielder Brad Evans.
The UC-Irvine product has played in the midfield throughout the
first three years of his Major League Soccer career, tallying eight
goals in over 4,000 minutes. Last summer, though, US National Team coach
Bob Bradley tried Evans out as a right back and he has continued to do
periodic work from that position ever since, while maintaining his
central-midfield spot with the Sounders FC.
Thursday night, he played right back for the Sounders and
impressed in a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers in anticipation of
fulfilling that need on March 25.
“I was comfortable. When I was with the national team, I got to
play right back that whole camp. In Tampa Bay, I made one mistake, but I
watched it again and there were some positives to be taken from that
game,” said Evans. “I learned a lot from that camp for sure. There are
still some little things that I know I have to fine tune, but I thought I
His transition back into Sounders camp, after missing the entire
trip to Spain in February to be with the USMNT, was slowed by a strained
hip flexor. However, he is back on the field and played a full 90
minutes against Portland.
“I thought he did well. For me, he was probably our best player
over 90 minutes, our most consistent player,” Schmid said. “I thought he
was one of the guys who was dynamic and looking to get forward.
Sometimes we miss him in the middle of midfield because he's someone who
finds his way into the box."
Goalkeeper Kasey Keller, never one to hold back a critical
comment, was also highly complimentary of Evans’ performance.
“Brad looks great,” he said. “He looked great in training and
he’s been playing that position with the national team a little bit.”
Evans’ comfort in that role may be vital for opening night, but
he doesn’t plan on making the position his home. Particularly with the
great play of Riley in 2009.
“I think James will be there at right back – he did so well last
year,” said Evans, noting that he doesn’t care what role he is in, as
long as he is on the field helping the team. “If I find myself at
outside right, then by all means. I’ll play anywhere. I think I’m
becoming more aware of what I need to do at certain positions. I feel
comfortable if I play in the middle or at outside right.”
Seattle has one more tune-up before opening the season March 25
against the Philadelphia Union. They will face the Colorado Rapids in
Commerce City, Colorado, on Friday. There will be a live blog of the
match at SoundersFC.com.