Sigi Schmid could close his eyes and stand in the middle of the field and know that on Thursday Brad Evans was back in training, building toward making his return to the pitch after missing the last four matches with a calf injury.
Evans’ voice was ubiquitous on the training field this week and that’s an encouraging sign as Seattle prepares to face Chivas USA on Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
“Brad is the kind of guy when he’s out on the field that is organizing and talking to people and directing people,” Schmid said. “When Brad’s not in there, that’s the part of it that you miss sometimes.”
Evans suffered a calf contusion against Toronto FC on March 15 and was on the verge of recovering to face the Columbus Crew when a setback forced him back to the training room. After an MRI revealed a hematoma in his calf in addition to another injury, his full return to training was delayed until last Sunday. He has since been training in full and is now poised to get back with his teammates on the field.
“I’m feeling good. It’s just good to be outside again and not watching from the sideline,” Evans said. "It was just a minor little setback. I’m feeling ready to go.”
While Schmid indicated that he doesn’t expect Evans to play 90 minutes, he didn’t rule out a start for the Seattle midfielder.
And although his match fitness may not be 100-percent, he has been putting in the work in the gym to make sure that he can hit the ground running when he does return to action.
“I think I broke the rowing machine three times in the last four weeks out of frustration,” he laughed. “Match fitness comes with playing games and that will come with time. I kept up with fitness the best I could on the bike and the rowing machine. It’s not even a thought.”
The four-week absence was particularly frustrating for Evans because it meant he missed another opportunity with the U.S. National Team in an April friendly against Mexico. However, he won’t let it hinder his outlook for this summer’s World Cup. Last year, he established himself as a viable candidate for the starting right back position and is still a likely contender for that starting role when World Cup training camp starts in mid-May.
“It’s frustrating and you hate to give your chance away to somebody else,” Evans said. “The focus now is the Sounders. I have to be healthy to even give myself a shot. If I’m healthy and playing consistently for the next month, whatever happens, happens.”
OBA WORKING FOR MORE GOALS
Obafemi Martins scored his first goal of the season in a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact on March 23 and has been on the cusp of getting another ever since, but hasn’t managed to get back on the scoreboard. However, he isn’t concerned about his own goal-scoring through six matches. The Nigerian forward has four assists to equal his total from 20 matches last year. That includes three helpers in the last three matches. And while he didn’t score against FC Dallas on Saturday, he was in position to score on all three Seattle goals. Martins knocked in the rebound of Clint Dempsey’s free kick, which was rightly ruled a goal for Dempsey. He was also at the far post on Dempsey’s ball across the box that was knocked in for an own-goal and for Chad Barrett’s pass to Dempsey that he knocked in for the match-winner in the 85th minute.
“The goals will come. I’m working hard. I’m not going to stop until I get my goals,” Martins said. “The important thing is that we’re doing well.”
Seattle is tied for second in MLS with 10 points at 3-2-1 and is unbeaten at 2-0-1 on the road.
SEATTLE SOCCER TALK MAKES KJR DEBUT
“The Gasman” Mike Gastineau has long been an advocate for soccer on the airwaves at KJR in Seattle and now, two years after his retirement, he is back on the air for a weekly hourlong special every Tuesday night. This week marked Seattle Soccer Talk’s debut from The Market Arms in Ballard, where Gastineau welcomed Sounders FC forward Kenny Cooper, Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl and Dave Clark from SounderAtHeart.com.
To hear the show, click here.
The show runs from 7-8 pm every Tuesday on SportsRadio 950 KJR.
UNBEATEN IN TEXAS
The Sounders FC Academy teams in Frisco, Texas, for the Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup and Generation adidas Cup both went unbeaten in their groups.
The Sounders FC Pre-Academy U-14 team played in the U-15 division of the Dallas Cup and finished second in its four-team group with a 1-0-2 record, beating Mexico’s Necaxa on Monday before draws with Pateadores from San Diego and Andromeda from Texas. Pateadores advanced to the quarterfinal round after finishing 2-0-1.
In the Generation adidas Cup, Sounders FC’s U-16s drew all three matches against the New York Red Bulls, Colorado Rapids and Flamengo from Brazil. In the tournament, every draw would also feature a shootout, with the winning team earning two points and the losing team earning one point, so Seattle finished the group stage with five points, winning in two of the shootouts. That will put Sounders FC third in the group and Seattle will play in the second round on Friday at 3 pm PT against the Philadelphia Union with an opportunity to finish as high as fifth in the tournament.