Sigi Schmid describes midfielder Brad Evans like a chameleon – a shape-shifter.
“Brad does so many things,” the Sounders FC head coach said. “I ask him to play center forward and he plays center forward like a center forward. I ask him to play right wing and he plays it like a right wing. I ask him to play midfield and he plays it like a midfielder.”
Evans has even trained as a right back for emergency situations. On Saturday night in New York, though, he made one heck of a center forward.
For 88 minutes on Saturday, Evans was all over the field – touching every blade of grass, as they say. He started as the center forward for the second time this season and wreaked havoc on the Red Bull defenders. He came at them from any and all angles, keeping them on their toes and constantly thinking of his presence.
That didn’t slow down in the 66th minute when he collided with a New York defender while both slid for a ball. When Fredy Montero subbed into the game in the 78th minute, it just meant a move to the right side for Evans, but it didn’t hinder his rate and frequency of motion to any degree.
“The energy and the movement that he gives us up front becomes contagious,” midfielder Pete Vagenas said. “He not only creates space for himself, but he forces other players to move as well and moves the defense around. As a midfielder looking to make passes, he always gives me an option, which is great.”
In the 85th minute, who else would it be but Evans who would skip a ball forward for Montero to deposit into the net for the game-winning goal?
Not coincidentally, Evans has had a hand in each of the Sounders FC’s three wins through nine games. He scored the game-winner in a season-opening win over the Philadelphia Union. Then had the heads-up play of the young season when he tossed a throw-in to Mike Fucito for a stoppage-time winner over the Kansas City Wizards April 17. Now he adds a beautifully lofted ball to Montero for a game-winner against New York to that résumé.
He continued that unrelenting play all the way to the final minutes of the match when Pat Noonan subbed on for him. When the whistle blew for the substitute, Evans collapsed to the field with cramping in his legs but looked more exhausted from 88 minutes of tyranny.
“He’s just a very unsung hero and he leaves his lungs out on the field for the guys. He doesn’t stop until he can’t go anymore,” Schmid said.
Added Vagenas, “His nature is to run a lot and work hard. Wherever he plays you know he is going to put in an honest effort. He’s going to run his legs off and last game was a good example of that.”
You would think with that much praise for his individual effort on Saturday, he might crack a bit of a smile. Not Evans though. Minutes after the victory, he was already pointing toward further improvements needed for the Sounders in their 3-3-3 season.
“We’re extremely happy with this result, but it’s still not good enough,” he said. “We need to keep climbing the ladder and hopefully goals will keep coming.”
The next rung on that ladder, Evans hopes, will come Saturday when the Sounders FC host the San Jose Earthquakes for a noon kickoff at Qwest Field.