Only two players in Major League Soccer were called into the U.S. National Team for a friendly on Wednesday against Bosnia and Herzegovenia in Sarajevo. Both play their club soccer for Sounders FC, as Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson were called in by Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the match.
Evans and Johnson flew from Toronto on Sunday, traveling over 4,600 miles to Bosnia where they will join a team that is otherwise built entirely on players playing in Europe.
“It’s going to be a long couple of days, but like I’ve said before, when your number gets called, you have to step up. It’s always a great opportunity,” said Evans, who has 12 caps for the U.S. and has risen to prominence as a right back in recent World Cup qualifying matches.
“It’s a long trip, but anytime you get called upon to play for your country, it’s something that you don’t take for granted,” said Johnson, whose 56 caps include helping the U.S. win the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup last month. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity and I’m delighted.”
The standalone friendly is a difficult matchup for the U.S. ahead of their final four World Cup qualifying matches in September and October. Bosnia and Herzegovenia is ranked 13th in the current FIFA rankings, while the U.S. has climbed to No. 19 after their Gold Cup win.
Among the more prominent players called in by Bosnia and Herzegovenia is Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko.
While the city of Sarajevo has undergone major reconstruction since the Bosnian War that extended from 1992-1996 demolished the city, Evans said the focus of the trip will be on the match – not the travel or the potential for sight-seeing.
“It’s all business. The most important thing is just playing in that game and going to work,” he said. “The team has had a lot of games in the states and now this is going to be a massive test to put a group together in a couple of days and play a very good squad in Bosnia.”
The U.S. will get back into World Cup qualifying on September 6 on the road against Costa Rica and will host Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, on September 10. While not necessarily pivotal in forming the team for those matches, Johnson points to the friendly as an opportunity to further develop the team on the field.
“It’s an opportunity for us to get together as a team and keep building chemistry and get better as a team,” he said.
After the match, Evans will join Sounders FC in Houston for a regular season match against the Dynamo while Johnson will serve his one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.