Tuesday night marked a first for Brad Evans.
In 83 career MLS matches, six playoff matches and several other appearances in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, he had never worn the captain’s armband.
On Tuesday, before his first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League, head coach Sigi Schmid called him into his office at CenturyLink Field and told him that he would like the fifth-year midfielder to captain the team against Comunicaciones from Guatemala.
The fact that it was his first start in nearly two months while he struggled through a series of injuries provided a tremendous vote of confidence from Schmid.
“I just want to be healthy,” Evans said. “Being able to wear the captain’s armband tonight was something special too. For me, anytime you put the band on you want to play well. No matter what, you wear it with pride. I had a decent game and we came out with the victory and that was the most important thing.”
After missing the second half of the 2010 season because of a knee injury, Evans came on strong to start 2011, scoring four goals in his first seven matches to lead the team. However, an injury held him out of the next match and he was limited to just 42 minutes over the next four matches because the injury was re-aggravated. After four straight starts in the midfield, he was limited to just 46 minutes in the next eight matches in MLS play.
Tuesday night, though, was a new beginning for Evans.
After falling behind 1-0 in the second minute, Evans headed home the equalizer on a Mike Fucito corner kick in the 35th minute and later was credited with an assist on Mike Fucito’s second goal of the night in the 67th minute en route to a 4-1 Sounders victory.
After the match, Evans was back to the jovial character that appeared in the club’s “Date With A Sounder” ad campaign.
When asked about his goal, he admitted that it didn’t go exactly as he planned it.
“100 percent came off the shoulder,” he smiled. “Well, it came off my head, but then it hit my shoulder. I think if it would have come off my head, the guy would have saved it, so luckily it came off my shoulder and went over his head.”
The goal was one thing. His play in the midfield along with Servando Carrasco, linking to the forwards and wide players, winning headers and providing defensive help all stood out to Schmid.
“Brad Evans shows what he helps provides us by getting that goal off the corner kick and getting an assist,” Schmid said. “He was good at winning those flick-ons. Those are little things that are really important that often times go overlooked. I didn't expect him to be able to go 90 minutes but he was able to conserve his energy for the right times and get through it.”
It was a match for Evans where his output matched his effort, which is something that his teammates follow.
“Every time he steps on the field he gives 100 percent and I think the team feeds off his energy in the midfield, certainly,” defender Patrick Ianni said. “It’s one of those things where if you give your all as a player you can ask a lot of others as well, and I think Brad has a good way of doing that and it really helps our team.”
Evans may make his return to MLS play on Saturday when the Sounders take on FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. Kickoff is at 6 pm Pacific Time on KONG 6/16 with radio coverage on 97.3 KIRO FM.