Sigi Schmid was stuck in the best type of conundrum last week. His Sounders FC side was rolling and his captain was returning from injury. However, Schmid opted to continue to bring Brad Evans back slowly while also giving the World Cup hopeful a chance to strengthen his case for inclusion on Jurgen Klinsmann's team come June when the world's premier sporting event kicks off in Brazil.
Evans appeared as a second-half substitute in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, then came back on Sunday afternoon to play 45 minutes as a right back in a 1-1 Reserve League draw, getting time at the position that Klinsmann has favored the 29-year-old veteran.
"I talked to Jurgen and explained to him what I was doing with Brad," Schmid said after Seattle ran its winning streak to three straight matches with the victory over the Rapids. "What we are trying to do now is build his fitness back. And I know Brad's mentality, he will give you everything he has when he steps out on the field. And I know my mentality with Brad is that I tend to push him sometimes. I didn't want to put myself or him out there in a situation where gets pushed too hard and causes a reoccurrence. After a full week of training I hope to see him again next week against Philly."
Evans played the final 21 minutes in the midfield against Colorado in his second match since returning from a calf contusion suffered in Seattle's second match of the season. After getting 45 more minutes at right back as Seattle took a 1-0 lead over the Rapids reserves on Sunday, he continues to work his way back to full fitness. He was prepared to play in the midfield on Sunday, too, but with Micheal Azira and Andy Rose available and fewer options on the back line, right back became a logical spot for Evans to play.
With the U.S. National Team opening final preparations for the World Cup in just three weeks, getting those reps at right back was a welcome opportunity for Evans.
"You just hope that it puts you in a good position moving forward," he said. "The only thing I can do now is work my way back into the starting lineup with the first team and work hard in practice. But the timing of it, it's great to get minutes at that position. For me the focus remains breaking the 11 now."
DeAndre Yedlin has started 38 of Seattle's 42 regular season matches since he signed last year, but with a busy week upcoming in which Sounders FC will play three matches in nine days while also traveling across the country at the end of the week to face the New England Revolution, it was important for Evans to be fresh and ready as Schmid may use him in many different roles.
And while the World Cup looms, Evans keeps his focus firmly on finding ways to help Sounders FC.
"Push, push, push. That's my focus now. We've got three games in (nine) days and it's going to be a good time to break into the team," Evans said. "It's not an easy decision. Guys are playing really well right now and I've got to push, get super-fit and break my way in."
Sounders FC will host the next two matches as part of a stretch of three straight games at CenturyLink Field. That means matches against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday and FC Dallas on May 7 before finishing the stretch against the Revolution on May 11.