As the week wore on at Starfire Sports last week and Sounders FC implemented their strategies for the upcoming match against Chivas USA, the personality of one of the club’s more prominent players began to change.
Known for his versatility, Brad Evans was moving back to his favorite role in the middle of midfield and his leadership position becomes much more verbose.
“Stepping into the middle tonight and even throughout the week when I got the inkling that I was going to be in there – I become a little bit more vocal,” Evans said. “I try to take charge a little bit more. I try to get the guys going and get them fired up a little bit more.”
The effect on his teammates cannot be understated.
Oftentimes, the contributions Evans makes are not necessarily a quantifiable figure that can be pointed to as evidence of his impact on a game.
Sunday night was not one of those nights. Evans moved to a central midfield role for just the fifth time this season and rewarded Head Coach Sigi Schmid’s maneuver with the equalizing goal in the first half as Seattle finished with a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA to extend its home unbeaten streak to eight straight matches.
The middle of midfield is where Evans exceled with Osvaldo Alonso through his first three seasons in Seattle before moves to wide midfield spots to exploit his versatility in the attack and defensive prowess. The move back to the middle was borne of a need for a more threatening attack and that is what Schmid got with 20 total shots and eight shots on goal in last Sunday’s win.
It was the kind of effort that allows Schmid to justify supplanting Servando Carrasco in the starting lineup after the third-year midfielder had played well in his 12 straight starts.
“The thing with Brad is he will play a little more attacking in that position and close that gap behind the forwards where Servando's tendency is to play a little deeper,” Schmid said. “Brad gets a goal as a result of that, but that was the reason we made the change because we thought Brad could give us more things going forward from that position.”
Not only does the move allow a more attacking approach through the midfield, but it also gives Alonso a more defined role as a holding midfielder, relieving him of the pressure to create in the attack.
Alonso, for one, seemed more comfortable with his responsibilities being tied mostly on the defensive end.
“We’ve been together for five years and we know each other,” Alonso said. “Brad’s a good player. He can play any position and do good.”
Schmid agreed with Alonso – that their chemistry and interplay in the midfield is an element that helps the team succeed.
“They have got a lot of games together so there's an understanding that's there. It's also their strengths play off of each other a little bit better,” Schmid said. “What it really does is gives Ozzie a player he can play forward to rather than play square to and that makes a big difference.”
It was an important win for Sounders FC as the team maintained its home dominance this season while also helping to find the team’s identity.
It was also a milestone goal for Evans, as he notched the 20th goal in his MLS career. As would be indicative of his position on the field, though, Evans is less concerned with personal statistics and individual accomplishments than he is about team success.
“I’m not a big stats guy, but it’s always good to help the team out,” he said. “Hopefully there will be more.”