Storm before the calm

Brad Evans returns from a hectic off-season with a renewed focus.

It’s been a whirlwind 13 months for Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans.

Last year at this time, Evans was adjusting to life in Seattle with the new MLS expansion Sounders FC after coming off of a championship season with the Columbus Crew. During the season, he faced the rigors of the Sounders FC schedule, and also spent time with the US National Team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, playing in three games for Bob Bradley’s squad.

All the while, he was preparing for a January wedding.

Little did he know, those plans would be thrown into a firestorm as well. Scheduled for January 9, 2010, the wedding fell on the first Saturday of US National Team winter training camp, which Evans didn’t anticipate to be a conflict. But he showed well enough in his summer appearances that Coach Bradley invited him to Carson, Calif., for the USMNT winter camp.

Fortunately for Evans, his wedding was also in California, so Bradley allowed him a brief reprieve from camp, though Evans did have to delay the honeymoon.

After three weeks with the National Team at the Home Depot Center, Evans flew back to Seattle on Sunday as a married man and with Sounders FC training camp looming.

“Yesterday I got in from L.A., so everything has been happening so quick. It seems like we just ended the season last week. It’s been pretty hectic lately. But it’s good to come back and see the guys and meet the new guys – it’s just good to be back,” Evans said after opening training camp Monday at Starfire in Tukwila, Wash.

His marital status wasn’t the only change Evans underwent this month, though. Training with the National Team, he got to work with midfield talents like Kyle Beckerman of Real Salt Lake and Benny Feilhaber of AGF Aarhus in Denmark, along with Bradley.

That gave him a new perspective on his position with the Sounders. Known best for being a connecter in the midfield, Evans saw it from a new perspective.

“The one thing I took from camp was getting the ball from the backs and quickly linking up with the forwards. I think it’s something that Sigi’s said before and I’ve tried to do it, but hearing it from another coach and seeing other players like Kyle and Benny makes it sink in a little more and makes you think about it,” Evans said.

After playing for Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid for the last three seasons, his has been the primary voice that Evans had heard since turning pro out of UC-Irvine in 2007. For Evans, the value wasn’t in a different message, but rather a different perspective on the message from Bradley.

“I think it’s good to get a different tone from a different coach. I’ve been lucky to have one coach for four years and I don’t take anything away from the instruction I’ve gotten from Sigi, but it’s interesting hearing it from someone else and watching other players apply it to their game as well,” Evans said. “Watching Kyle and Benny, you can strive to do it how they do it. You can see where you’re lacking and when you can train with those players who have it, it can pay off in the end. This time coming back I don’t have to go straight into games. I have a preseason to go through, so it has time to sink in too.”

For now, he can put the National Team behind him and turn his focus toward a Sounders club for whom he scored three goals in 2009, including goals in the season opener against the New York Red Bulls and the season finale against FC Dallas.

And with three weeks of camp already under his wings, he comes in with a full head of steam.

“It felt good coming out (today). Things weren’t easier, but you feel more at ease, especially on the first day,” he said.

The team he joins is building toward some lofty goals in 2010. After winning the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and reaching the playoffs with the third best record in the Western Conference, the Sounders return most of their roster.

“We have a great team here, I can’t emphasize that enough. Talking with guys in the US National Team camp, everybody likes the way we play and likes our team. They were all upset nobody was leaving our team,” Evans said. “Seattle is a great team and has a great staff and everybody knows it. I couldn’t be happier right now.”

The Sounders FC continues training camp on Tuesday at Starfire before two days at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. They return to Starfire on Friday and will train there until leaving for Arizona for the second leg of training camp Wednesday, February 3. Seattle opens the regular season on March 25 with MLS First Kick against the expansion Philadelphia Union at Qwest Field.

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