As professional athletes go, Brad Evans is as realistic they come. Never one to pull any punches, the veteran Sounders FC midfielder is always one to speak his mind.
After what he felt was a subpar personal performance for the U.S. National Team in a 2-0 win against South Korea last week, he still feels as though he is deserving of strong consideration for the starting right back position as the U.S. prepares for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
â€œPersonally, I felt I had a good camp. I didnâ€™t miss a training session and always gave it my all. The game, for me, wasnâ€™t indicative of how the whole camp went,â€ said Evans, who spent most of the month of January in Jurgen Klinsmannâ€™s training camp. â€œI felt like I was sharp in the camp, then in the game made a few mental errors that arenâ€™t consistent with what I normally do in a game and it bit me from behind. Nobodyâ€™s position is guaranteed and I still have a lot of work to do.â€
That stance has never changed for Evans, who emerged as a strong candidate to start at right back for the U.S. last year when he made eight starts at the position and figured prominently in World Cup qualifying.
Even while Klinsmann expressed confidence in the seven-year MLS veteran, Evans approached each training session and each opportunity to play in a game as a chance to show that he is deserving of the starting spot. A large part of that is the success that the U.S. has had with Evans in the lineup and that didnâ€™t change with the 2-0 result against South Korea, who is also in preparations for the World Cup.
One reason for that success is the relationship formed between Evans and the center back pair of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler.
â€œThereâ€™s a close bond that weâ€™ve developed over the course of time and weâ€™re definitely not leaking goals with that back line,â€ said Evans
That chemistry developed over the course of the year in 2013, but while in camp this year, Evans began to develop a closer relationship with another U.S. National Team newcomer â€“ Sounders FC teammate DeAndre Yedlin.
Although they spent the whole 2013 season together, Evans and Yedlin hadnâ€™t spent much time together until they started competing for the right back position in training camp with Klinsmann last month. It is a bond that could prove fruitful for Sounders FC, as the U.S. duo is likely to feature as Seattleâ€™s right side in 2014.
â€œTo be honest, we probably werenâ€™t the closest on the team together and you find that with any team. It doesnâ€™t mean that you donâ€™t like the person or you canâ€™t have a conversation with them. It is what it is. This camp, I thought it was cool that we both took a flight together and it was instant that we were spending time together,â€ Evans said. â€œI got to know him a lot better and I think itâ€™s good for the team, especially since we are probably going to be playing on the same side together. The closer we can become off the field, and that goes for everybody, itâ€™s that much closer that we can become on the field.â€
Evans doesnâ€™t know what his future with the U.S. National Team holds. He is hoping to get called in for the next match â€“ a friendly on March 5 against Ukraine â€“ but he is realistic and knows that there are others knocking on the door for playing time.
â€œMarch 5 is an open door right now. If Iâ€™m there, Iâ€™m going to make sure those things donâ€™t happen again,â€ Evans said. â€œIf somebody else is better, then they are better, but Iâ€™m going to push and fight. I want to be there.â€
Evans and Yedlin rejoined Sounders FC in training camp on Wednesday and are both expected to see time over the weekend when Seattle faces the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz.