The Sounders FC has strength in numbers in the midfield after adding Mario Martinez and Christian Tiffert to a group that already included Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans, Andy Rose and Alex Caskey, as well as the returning Steve Zakuani.
But the versatility of that group allows head coach Sigi Schmid to play several different iterations and combinations in the midfield.
Perhaps no player has offered more versatility than Evans. And with the list of top quality midfielders growing longer, that versatility has kept him on the field.
“It’s a blessing and a curse. Right now, if I only played one position, I’d probably find myself on the outside looking in,” Evans said. “Right now, it’s a good thing that I’ve been able to play other positions and find myself on the field. So right now, I can’t complain. That’s the bottom line. I just want to be on the field.”
The 27-year-old veteran has started all four midfield positions in MLS play and added two starts at right back in the US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League. On Saturday in a 6-2 win over Chivas USA, he started on the left side of midfield and made an instant impact, running up the left side behind the defense and scoring his second goal of the season in the tenth minute.
His distribution also resulted in two of Seattle’s six goals in an offensive explosion that lifted the Sounders to second in the Western Conference.
“Evans played well. He’s a versatile player who can play a number of different positions for you,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Now he’s showing that ability to go forward late. He’s more involved in our final plays as well.”
Evans joined the Sounders in the expansion draft before their inaugural season in 2009 after spending his first two MLS seasons with the Columbus Crew. Now in his fourth year with the Sounders, he has taken on a leadership role and has shown an ability to help the Sounders from several different positions on the field.
In 2009, he played almost exclusively as a central midfielder, while also making two starts at right back after playing the position in his three appearances with the US National Team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He also played a pair of games on the right side of midfield.
In 2010, four of his 11 starts came as a forward in an injury-shortened season when Seattle’s depth was tested up front.
2011 again saw him miss a chunk of games due to injury, but it also saw him produce career-best numbers with five goals and five assists. In seven of his 17 starts, he played on the right side of midfield again.
All throughout that time, Evans has been a player Schmid can count on and this year, he has taken on even more of a leadership role.
“He wants the team to win. He wants the team to succeed. So if you tell him that he needs to play in goal for us to win the game, he’ll go play in goal. He’ll give you the best effort wherever he goes,” Schmid said. “He’s a guy who competes and battles and demands a lot of himself and through that contributes an awful lot to the team.”
With nine games left on the MLS calendar and three more in the CONCACAF Champions League, including one on Thursday against Caledonia in Trinidad, Evans will certainly have plenty of playing time. If he keeps producing like he has in the past few weeks, it will be hard to get him off the field.