Red, White and Brad

To say that Brad Evans was anxious to get on the field for his first cap with the US National Team would be an understatement. (Photo courtesy Otto Gruel)

The Sounders FC midfielder was so excited – and so were the 15,382 at Qwest Field – that he couldn’t hear the officials yelling for him to wait to go onto the field when he subbed on in 62nd minute of USA’s 4-0 win over Grenada Saturday. The result was a yellow card before he even got his first touch.

“It was great. It’s always good to have support, especially in front of your home fans,” Evans said. “I guess they were yelling at me to wait a little bit to get onto the field, but I couldn’t hear them. That’s how loud it was. It’s exciting and it was good to get some minutes.”

Adding to the excitement of earning his first cap was that it came in front of family and friends on the Sounders home turf on Independence Day.

“Obviously it’s special when you put on the national team jersey,” said Evans, who played right back for the Stars and Stripes. “Overall it’s a great feeling to get on the field and connect some passes and get into the rhythm and speed of the game.”

Evans will remain with the National Team through the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which could extend until the July 26 final in New York. Over that time, he will miss only two MLS league games – Saturday against the Houston Dynamo and July 25 against the Chicago Fire. However, he has already missed Seattle’s 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers in the US Open Cup and will miss Tuesday’s quarterfinal meeting with the Kansas City Wizards. He will also miss the semifinals, scheduled for July 21 at Starfire, should Seattle advance past the Wizards. Also on the schedule while Evans is gone is a friendly against EPL side Chelsea on July 18.

For Evans, playing for the red, white and blue is a lifelong dream. A Phoenix, Arizona, native, he played collegiately at UC-Irvine before embarking on his MLS career with the Columbus Crew for two years before joining the Sounders. But all along, the National Team has always been in his sights.

“Every player has different aspirations, whether that’s staying in the States or going to play for another club abroad. But for sure this is on everybody’s list,” Evans said. “You’d never turn it down if it came along and if you’re asked to play a position that’s out of sorts, you do whatever you can to get on the field. It’s a great honor.”

A midfielder by trade, Evans is playing right back, a position where he gained some experience while playing for the US U-20 National Team in 2005, where he played for Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid.

It is a learning experience, but one that Evans embraces wholeheartedly.

“Every day it gets better and you learn more and more, especially when you play different opponents,” he said.

Although the stadium was only half-full – the smallest crowd Evans said that he’s seen at Qwest with the lone exception being closed-door preseason scrimmages – Evans still felt the ovation. The hometown crowd even erupted every time the ball touched his feet.

“It’s great – every time you turn around these fans are unbelievable. The guys may give me little jabs about the fans yelling, but it’s just incredible to have the support as well,” he said. “You don’t get it anywhere else to be honest.”

The year may only be half-over, but Evans – who won the MLS title with the Columbus Crew in 2008 – already counts it as the best year of his career. The 24-year-old has two goals and an assist while playing a vital role in the midfield for the 6-3-7 Sounders, who are third in the MLS Western Conference.

“Coming out from the gates starting from the beginning, things fell into place and Sigi has trusted me in the midfield. From a club standpoint (this is the biggest year) for sure,” he said while heading to the locker room on Saturday. “Obviously this is one of the biggest honors, putting on (the US) jersey. It’s a good year to remember.”