The last time the MLS SuperDraft was in Indianapolis, Sigi Schmid and the Columbus Crew selected Brad Evans with the 15th overall pick in 2007.
This week, Evans thought back to that time as teams from around the league took to the Indiana Convention Center and went through the two-round draft on Thursday. Surrounded by his US National Team cohorts at January camp in Carson, California, Evans recalled thinking he would wind up with the LA Galaxy because they held two of the first 10 picks and several more early in the draft and had expressed interest.
However the Galaxy made several trades, leading Evans to start to guess where else he could wind up.
After his name was called with the 15th pick – the second pick of the second round – it started a whirlwind for the then-21-year-old Evans.
“Ultimately, hearing my name being selected, going up there and putting on the scarf and shaking the commissioner’s hand – those are things that you’ll remember throughout your career,” he said. “At the time I was dating my wife, then I was moving completely across the country. Tying up loose ends – selling my car, breaking my lease with my roommates – it all happens so fast. I think I had six days to get it all squared away before I had to be in Columbus.”
There, he joined a Crew side that was in their second year under Schmid. Many of the puzzle pieces that would wind up winning MLS Cup in 2008 were there on the field in 2007. The competitive nature of those initial sessions was a tough awakening for the rookie from UC-Irvine.
“The first thing I remember from one of my first training sessions was a one- or two-touch drill. Marc Burch was in Columbus at that time and he was pretty rough around the edges – not the nice guy he is now. He gave me an absolute earful because I played a ball too slow,” he said, now laughing about how he and Burch have wound up being such close friends. “That put a bad taste in my mouth for the first training sessions. But once you get into the swing of things and the games, things get easier.”
Now a six-year MLS veteran, Evans is excited about the additions of new teammates Eriq Zavaleta from Indiana University and Brown University’s Dylan Remick.
He’s not alone at US National Team camp though.
After each morning’s training session, players learn about what’s going on around the league in what has become something of a morning ritual.
“Every morning after training, we go into the ice baths. It’s kind of become a communal event,” Evans said. “Thursday morning guys were on twitter and talking to agents and figuring out what gaps each team was filling in through the draft and through trades. The guys here know where their team is and what they’re doing.”
One of those transactions was former Sounder Mike Fucito going to the San Jose Earthquakes in a trade that was announced Thursday morning. There he joins MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon.
Already flaunting depth at the forward position, Fucito will likely bring a new dynamic to that group in San Jose. And with Wondolowski, Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour all at the US training camp, the talk about the trade has been fervent.
“They’re going to play a 4-2-4. Bernardez is going to get the ball and smash it as hard as he can and they are going to have Fucito, Gordon, Wondo and Lenhart just all jump up for the ball at the same time,” Evans laughed. “With his personality, he’ll fit in there just fine.”
At US camp, the team has moved into an intense phase of training. After building strength and fitness in the first week of camp, the second week has been dedicated to playing with the ball and learning the tactics of how head coach Jurgen Klinsmann wants to play.
The intensity is nothing new to the MLS-based players, but some from Europe have questioned the level of difficulty of the training sessions, growing accustomed to more laid-back sessions in Europe.
While they have played several games from 18-to-18, they have yet to play on a full field. Evans is hoping that comes soon as they prepare for the upcoming friendly against Canada on January 29 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
“Nothing replicates an 11v11 game,” he said. “Nothing gets you fit like playing.”
After the friendly against Canada, many of the players will return to their club teams, while others will stay for a World Cup qualifying match against Honduras on February 6 in San Pedro Sula.
The Sounders FC open training camp on Monday at Starfire. Their first game of preseason is February 5 against the Portland Timbers in Tucson, Arizona.