Cabo can wait.
That was the conclusion to which Brad Evans and his fiancée came when he was approached by US National Team manager Bob Bradley about attending training camp beginning today, as the National Team prepares for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Bradley was understanding enough to allow Evans to miss a few days for his wedding on Saturday, January 9, though.
“My fiancée and I always knew that we couldn't have a summer wedding, so we took the chance on a January wedding knowing there was about a 10 percent chance I'd be called in, then all of a sudden it happened,” said Evans, who planned to spend a week in Cabo San Lucas for his honeymoon.
The invitation comes after Evans helped the Sounders FC to a 12-7-11 regular season record and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title. He had three goals and two assists in his third Major League Soccer season, scoring in the season opener and season finale.
“It's another good honor for this year. I'm looking forward to it for sure,” said Evans, who made his national team debut in the CONCACAF Gold Cup last summer. “It came kind of as a surprise because I was playing out of position in the summer and then I didn't play too well after I came back from the Gold Cup, but I got back to where I was in terms of match fitness and back to playing center-mid. So it's good to be recognized.”
Spending most of his international time at right back, as opposed to the center-mid position he plays with Seattle, Evans struggled to learn his role in Gold Cup play, then took a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things with the Sounders. To tell him now that he has a chance, however distant, of making the US squad that heads to the biggest tournament in the world in June comes as a big surprise to Evans considering his challenges in August.
“If someone asked me realistically if I thought I had a chance to make it to the World Cup, I would have said that's not a possibility. But weirder things have happened,” he said. “Now I go into it with a level head and I know more what to expect.”
Though he prefers playing center-mid to right back, position doesn’t matter as much to Evans, as long as he knows what his role will be. Even if that means playing a utility role, making him a more likely candidate to stick, then that is the role he will play.
“It doesn't matter. As long as I go into it with a good mindset, and knowing what to expect,” Evans said. “If I'm playing right back, then I know what he wants out of me now.”
Evans stayed in the Seattle-area during the offseason, working through a strength and conditioning schedule arranged by the US team and working other days with Sounders FC fitness coach David Tenney. That schedule was accelerated by Evans’ invitation, prompting him to work towards a January 4 start date rather than the start of Sounders FC training camp on January 25.
“Pulling on the (USA) jersey in the beginning was an honor and that really never changes,” Evans said. “You never take it for granted. It's important every single match.”
The camp will be based at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and will conclude January 23 with a friendly against Honduras. And while he acknowledges he is a longshot to make the squad, Evans is not about to reschedule his honeymoon for June when the MLS takes a break for the World Cup.
“Nothing's ever out of reach. It's definitely not in my grasp because players are in front of me at center mid and right back,” Evans said. “But it's only six months away, so it's not out of the question.”
Evans will return to the Sounders FC for the start of training camp, January 25. They open the 2010 MLS season as the First Kick match at Qwest Field against the expansion Philadelphia Union, March 25 at 6:30 pm PT (ESPN2).