When Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson and midfielder Brad Evans got called in to the US National Team for January training camp, there was always a possibility that they wouldn’t join the Sounders preseason camp until after a February 6 World Cup qualifying match in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
That came to fruition on Monday, as US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced his roster for the match, including both Johnson and Evans as they face a Honduras side that is coming off of a second place finish in the Copa Centroamericana and was one of the hottest teams in the region in 2012.
It also means the potential for three Sounders to be on the field, as Mario Martinez was also named to the squad for Honduras.
“It’s great for our fans to see that,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I know those guys will say hello to one another, but this is World Cup qualifying – that’s heart and soul for everybody.”
Evans, 27, has seven caps with the US National Team, including last Tuesday’s scoreless draw against Canada in Houston. In that match he started on the right side of midfield, but played right back in the second half and that versatility undoubtedly helped him earn a roster spot for the qualifying match.
“He’s worked hard. He’s continued to mature his game. He’s continued to grow his game. And it’s a great example to young players,” Schmid said. “Hopefully he’ll continue to grow and make an impact on the National Team and maybe put himself on the World Cup train. There’s still a lot of work for him to do, but that’s not a bad train for him to get on.”
Johnson, 28, returned to the scene for the US late last year and is now up to 14 goals in 45 appearances after playing 73 minutes against Canada this week. He scored twice in a 2-0 win against Antigua and Barbuda in the group stage of the CONCACAF region’s qualifying tournament and followed that up with an assist on the game-winning goal in a 3-1 victory over Guatemala.
Martinez, 23, has three goals in 26 appearances for the Honduras National Team, including starts in all four of their matches this year in the Copa Centroamericana. He was also instrumental in the Olympic squad’s run to the quarterfinals in the 2012 Olympics. For a team that reached the World Cup in 2010 for their first appearance in 28 years, helping Honduras reach another World Cup would be quite an accomplishment.
“You can go down in folklore if you qualify for a World Cup, so there’s going to be a lot at stake,” Schmid said.
While Evans, Johnson and Martinez are slugging it out in San Pedro Sula, defender Adam Johansson is with Sweden as they ready for a friendly against Argentina on Tuesday.
Johansson, 29, has 14 caps for Sweden and was in the team for the recent King’s Cup tournament in Thailand. The team Sweden brought in for the match is mostly a first-choice team as they get ready for World Cup qualifying, beginning in late March and Johansson is looking to be included in that qualifying group.
“He continues to come out of their camps and continues to be part of the team,” Schmid said. “Hopefully it bodes well for him as he’ll get called in for qualifiers as they move forward.”
All four players are expected to return to Seattle after their matches and join the Sounders in training camp.