As the Sounders FC transition into the second phase of 2012 training camp, Brad Evans may feel like he has a bit of an advantage, but it’s not because he’s returning to his home state of Arizona.
For 23 days this month, the fourth-year Sounders midfielder was in an intense training camp with the US National Team, training in Phoenix and Carson, California in the build up to friendlies against Venezuela and Panama. That meant three sessions in the gym under the watchful eye of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on many days, getting himself physically fit with his 19 US teammates.
“I think Jurgen's philosophy is he wants everybody on the same page, so I think for the first six days we maybe played on the field twice,” Evans said. “The rest of the time was spent in the gym.”
After those first few days, the team took the field, where Evans worked in a midfield with the US vets Jermaine Jones and Ricardo Clark and Colorado Rapids standout Jeff Larentowicz.
In Jones and Clark, who are both playing in Germany, Evans was able to pick up some tidbits along the way.
“Those are guys who are a little bit older than I am and they play overseas, so it was two guys that you kind of want to emulate because they’ve taken their careers to the next level, which is good to see,” Evans said. “You see it in their play, you see it in the way that they play, and it’s something for me to watch for sure. If I can learn just a little bit, take a little bit off of each other their game, it’s going to be beneficial.”
However, his primary source of education was Andreas Herzog, the US assistant coach who was a star in Germany and Austria before playing his final professional season under Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid and the LA Galaxy in 2004.
“Getting around that and being able to play midfield this time around with the national team, I think will benefit Brad,” Schmid said.
That is in stark contrast to many of his previous experiences with the US National Team, where former coach Bob Bradley used Evans as a right back. That meant Evans had to spend a portion of camp adjusting to his new position, then another portion back in Seattle re-acquainting himself with his former position.
Now back with the Sounders, Evans will make another return to Arizona, as the team starts the second phase of training camp on Monday in Casa Grande.
There, Evans will resume his role as the starting midfielder alongside Osvaldo Alonso, where last year Evans had his best season in MLS with five goals and five assists, though injuries limited him to just 20 MLS matches. He added one goal and two assists in six matches in US Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League and the MLS Cup playoffs.
While the numbers show an impressive jump from his two previous seasons with the Sounders, he knows there is more there for him to take.
With his head start in training camp, another jump in production just may be in the cards for Evans in 2012.