Brad Evans has shown throughout his 117 matches in a Sounders FC uniform that he will play anywhere on the field to help the team win. His versatility has seen him play every field position in his time in Seattle and on Saturday, he played three different roles in his first start since injuring his calf in the second match of the season.
Starting the match on the right side of midfield, Evans held that role until an ankle injury to left back Dylan Remick forced Head Coach Sigi Schmid to move him to the left side of defense. Then, in the final minutes of the match, he moved Evans into the middle of midfield when Zach Scott entered the match and Seattle was looking to close out the victory.
"I thought he did well. That's Brad's thing is versatility," Schmid said. "That's part of what we need him to do."
The move to left back was nothing new for Evans and neither was movement from one position to another. He has started in all four midfield roles, as a forward and as a right back with Seattle, but also played as a center back and left back in other situations.
That sort of malleability helped him earn 17 caps with the U.S. National Team and he is a likely candidate to start at right back as it prepares for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
So when Schmid needed to make a substitution at left back in the 51st minute while Seattle was trailing 1-0 and needed to press for an equalizer against the Philadelphia Union, he didn't hesitate to move Evans to that position and bring the play-making Marco Pappa into the match.
"We went with that option in the game because we were losing 1-0 and we wanted to get Pappa onto the field and we thought it made us a more offensive team by keeping Brad at left back," Schmid explained.
That transition across the field and into a defensive role didn't take long for Evans either, in large part because of his versatility, but also because of his teammates.
"Guys found me with space with the ball and that makes it easy," Evans said. "I treat it just as another attacking position. When you're pressing at home, that makes it easy. I had to tuck in a little bit and make sure I wasn't caught with the ball slipping in behind. It's a little bit of a transition, but I feel more comfortable attacking out of the back than I do at midfield, to be honest."
Evans has always had the confidence of Schmid, who drafted Evans out of college and has been the only coach he has played for in his seven seasons in MLS. Schmid also coached Evans with the U.S. U-20 National Team while Evans was at UC-Irvine.
But Schmid isn't alone in his faith in Evans anywhere on the field, as his teammates hold that same confidence.
"Brad can play anywhere on the pitch. I'm not sure about goalkeeper, but the rest, he can do it," smiled Djimi Traore. "That's one of his main strengths. He can play anywhere and he will do the job and he will do it well."
Now faced with a similar conundrum on Wednesday when Seattle hosts FC Dallas in a mid-week match at CenturyLink Field, Schmid again has options.
Leo Gonzalez is making progress toward a return to the starting lineup, while Schmid mentioned Zach Scott and Micheal Azira as other options. Scott has made 10 of his 51 career MLS starts at left back, most recently in a 1-0 win over Chivas USA on September 4, 2013, and Azira has shown the versatility to play in an outside back role, too. With Schmid anticipating Remick to miss at least another week, that lineup flexibility could prove to be valuable.
Sounders FC hosts FC Dallas on Wednesday then travels across the country to meet the New England Revolution on Sunday.