Sounders FC got an unforeseen contribution from an unexpected source on Saturday in its 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Brad Evans was released from U.S. National Team camp on Thursday when Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann trimmed his roster from 30 to 23 players, finalizing the World Cup roster nearly two weeks before the deadline on June 2. Evans returned to Seattle on Thursday evening, joined the team in training on Friday and on Saturday was called on as a second-half substitute at center back when Djimi Traore suffered a groin injury. Getting into the match gave Evans the opportunity to move forward from a difficult week.
"For me, obviously it's a tough decision to swallow. I put a lot of effort into that team. I bled for that team, and that's what I do for any team that I'm on, so it's a hard pill to swallow," he said. "At the end of the day, it's a decision that can't be revoked. Now it's time to move to the Sounders. With the support that I've gotten from the fans and my team, right now there is no other team I'd want to be with."
Despite coming back from a physically tough week that the U.S. National Team used to help build the team's fitness and the mental drain of learning that he would not be included on the World Cup squad, Evans initially hoped he would start on Saturday. However, he knew that may not be the best long-term decision and had open conversation with Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid, deciding that he was fit to be on the bench but starting wasn't the best option.
He entered the match in the 56th minute and played center back alongside Zach Scott. Shortly after Vancouver scored to go up 2-1 in the 66th minute, he swapped positions with Jalil Anibaba to help create more offense from the right back position.
"I thought the guys battled hard," he said. "Maybe if we eliminate one or two mistakes, we might come out of here with three points, but happy with the boys with the 2-2."
While he had been used as a right back through most of his time with the U.S. National Team in 2013, helping the U.S. qualify for the World Cup with a first place finish in the CONCACAF region, he was used mostly as a center back in the eight days that he spent with the U.S. at Stanford University. He acknowledged that his time in that role may have helped him adjust to that position on Saturday, but also said it may have been an early indication that he wouldn't be included on the final World Cup roster.
After having time to think about his situation on the flight home from California, he was able to put Klinsmann's decision behind him and shift his focus back to the Sounders. Though many had already penciled him onto the plane to Brazil and even in the starting lineup for the U.S., Evans chose to focus on each day as a trial for the U.S. squad and that approach helped him move forward.
"Whenever I was called in, I was starting with that team. So maybe that hurts a little bit, but like I said before, nothing's done until it's done, and that's the attitude that I took. Maybe that helped me out now in terms of being able to move forward and hold my head high and look back over the past year," Evans said. "Everything that happened was kind of last minute with it, so it was a fun ride and it's over now, but like I said, I continue on with the Sounders. We're at 26 points and we're sitting alright. We've got a lot of work to do, but my focus now is Sounders."
Evans holds no ill-will toward the national team and will be rooting for them in Brazil, particularly Sounders FC teammates DeAndre Yedlin and Clint Dempsey. Now his attention will be solely focused on helping Seattle maintain its spot atop the Supporters' Shield standings and Saturday was the first step toward doing that.
"It's not a sob story. Nobody passed away. It's part of the game. It is what it is. My career is not over. I'm not leaving the game," he said. "I've got nothing else but to be proud of what I've accomplished and what we continue to do here in Seattle."
Evans was among seven players who were dismissed by Klinsmann on Thursday, five of whom play in MLS. The others are Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) and Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew). Ten players on the 23-man roster play in MLS.
Evans remains on standby for the U.S. and if any injuries occur, he could return for duty.