With one strike of the ball, everything changed for Brad Evans.
Yet, after returning to Seattle on Saturday after notching the game-winning goal for the US National Team in a 2-1 win over Jamaica in the Hexagonal Round of FIFA World Cup qualifying, absolutely nothing changed.
He is still fighting for a position on the US squad as they strive for a berth in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. One good match and an important goal aren’t going to change that, especially with Steve Cherundolo and Timothy Chandler working their way back into fitness and spots on the team themselves.
“Everybody wants to play in the World Cup but there are a number of players that are supposed to be here that either aren’t here for injury or because they played an extremely long season. In my mind there are still a number of guys that are ahead of me. I just have to keep plugging away and whatever happens happens,” Evans said on Saturday after returning from Jamaica to watch the Sounders top the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-2 at CenturyLink Field.
Evans, who is in his fifth season with the Sounders FC and seventh in MLS, emerged in recent weeks as a strong candidate for playing time at rightback. Brought into camp as a late addition, Evans asserted himself at rightback. He played there in prior camps with the national team and even made appearances there with the Sounders, but he always considered himself a central midfielder.
That doesn’t change with his performances in a friendly against Germany and a qualifier against Jamaica either. However, as he has with the Sounders where he has played every position on the field except goalkeeper at one time or another, he will do whatever it takes to get on the field and help his team win.
However, US National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had conversations with Evans and Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid and determined that now was a good time for Evans to play that role.
“We spoke before camp about it. I spoke a couple of times at length with Sigi here. We felt it’s the right moment for him to get that opportunity and he took it,” Klinsmann said.
It appears that Evans will continue to play rightback for the US when they face Panama at CenturyLink Field on Tuesday. While getting the start for his country has been a memorable experience for Evans, doing so at his club’s stadium is setting up to amplify that emotion.
“Being home is something that will be extremely special. Not many players get to experience something like this, so it will always be something I’ll remember,” said Evans, who got his first cap with the US in a Gold Cup match at CenturyLink Field in 2009.
The US is second in the Hexagonal Round at 2-1-1, trailing Costa Rica on goal difference. With home matches against Panama and Honduras this month, they have an opportunity to maintain a spot at or near the top of the Hex.
Evans will do whatever he can to make sure they succeed and that he is a part of that success. Even if it may come as a bit of a surprise.
“I’m surprised to be the No. 1 for sure,” he said. “But I’m ready. I’ve been thrust into different positions before. It’s just having a positive attitude and being a student of the game and embracing it.”