On Sunday, Brad Evans boarded a plane with 25 other U.S. National Team hopefuls, heading to Brazil as part of Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s January camp. That Evans didn’t find out until Saturday that he would be going along for the trip may sound like a minor inconvenience, but it’s exactly how Evans likes to approach his time with the U.S. National Team.
“It’s not certain until you have a ticket in your hand,” Evans said. “That’s how the last year and a half has been. That’s the motto that I’m going to stick by.”
For someone who was far on the fringes until leaping at an opportunity to play right back almost a year ago, there is no better way to approach each camp and session. And as the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil approaches in June, it’s a mantra Evans is glad to keep, as he continues to strive toward the goal of earning a spot on that World Cup team.
The U.S. will spend the next 13 days in Brazil training in the environs that the team will encounter in June during the World Cup. The players are using the same hotel and training facilities that the U.S. will use at that time, so it will be as much an exercise in learning the logistics of the 2014 World Cup as it is about building the team for the tournament.
Until Sunday, though, the first week of camp in Carson, California, was like the other January camps Evans had been to, spending the majority of the previous six days training two and three times a day with some of the top MLS players who don the red, white and blue of the U.S. National Team.
“It’s been good. It’s a typical January camp, just trucking along like we usually do. At the beginning, everybody is excited and ready to work,” Evans said. “It’s pretty intense. The sessions aren’t that long, but they are mentally draining and couple that with the fitness it can be pretty draining. But everyone is fighting through it collectively and that makes for good sessions.”
Each night, just before going to sleep, the following day’s schedule is slipped under the door of their hotel room.
The typical days have run from 8 am until close to 6 pm, with a morning run starting the day, a mid-morning training session at the StubHub Center and an afternoon weight session. In between, the team has breakfast and lunch together and holds meetings before players are dismissed to have dinner on their own.
With the strenuous work load and fitness testing in the first week, players haven’t had much time to think about the trip to Brazil this week.
“The main focus was just on the week,” Evans said. “Everyone did really well on fitness, which was great, and that propelled us into a good week of training, too.”
When there is time off, Evans has found himself gravitating toward some of the other January camp veterans. He is rooming with LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez and has also been spending time with Sporting Kansas City midfielders Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber.
“Once we’re in Brazil, we’ll start to build the team a little bit more,” Evans said. “Right now it’s just about pushing through the work and you might not see guys on some days.”
Evans crosses paths with Sounders FC teammate DeAndre Yedlin, but Yedlin too has remained in his element with U.S. U-20 teammate Luis Gil of Real Salt Lake.
Although they are playing the same right back position in camp, Evans and Yedlin have had limited time together in drills and scrimmages because the team has focused more on the fitness elements in the first week.
However, Evans can see that Yedlin is fitting in with the players in camp.
“He’s doing great and showing why he’s here – physical capabilities and speed,” Evans said. “He’s a good dude and he wants to learn and that’s the best part about it.”
When they have been together, Evans and Yedlin have talked about Sounders FC’s latest signings, Academy products Aaron Kovar and Sean Okoli.
Perhaps it is Yedlin’s early success, earning All-Star honors in addition to his invitations to the FIFA U-20 World Cup and U.S. National Team training camp in addition to his on-field exploits with Sounders FC, but Evans was also greatly excited about the new additions.
“I was hoping we would sign a couple more Homegrown Players because in my mind that’s the next step in our league,” he said. “They know what they’re getting into and their both excited. I’m excited too. I’m looking forward to getting some trainings with them and hopefully seeing them on the field, too.”
That time will come in February when Evans and Yedlin return from training camp. In the meantime, they will continue to work for the next two weeks in Brazil before returning to California and facing South Korea in a friendly on February 1 at the StubHub Center.