In the world of soccer, the cohesiveness of the 11 players on the field is often just as important as the talent of that group.
They need piano players, the saying goes, and piano carriers. The players to work the magic with the ball to create scoring opportunities and the players to do the dirty work to make everyone else’s life easier on the field.
Brad Evans, for all his talents, is a piano carrier.
If there needs to be an argument presented for that, Seattle’s 3-0 win over Portland on Sunday is Exhibit A.
In the match, Evans started out at his normal midfield position as a left-sided midfielder, utilizing his defensive skills in a lineup that featured Mauro Rosales, Christian Tiffert, Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson carrying the offensive load. That left Evans with Osvaldo Alonso to handle most of the defensive duties in the midfield, though the team’s total effort was a talking point after the match.
However, when Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke both had to be treated at separate points in the first half, Evans shifted into their center back role until they were tended to by the team’s medical staff and could return to action.
If that wasn’t enough, he sent in a pinpoint cross to earn the assist on Johnson’s first-half goal and a long throw to set up Montero’s second-half goal as well.
“There are certainly things about Brad’s game that he can get better at. He knows that as well as anybody. But there is a lot of dirty work that he does – a lot of different elements he’s able to provide,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “His recognition of when to slide into the middle defensively when Tiffert and Rosales vacate the middle is something that’s very important for that whole thing to work. You have to have the athleticism to be able to get in there, but you also have to be able to recognize that’s where I need to be right now – that’s where I need to cover. He does a lot of those little things for us that are important.”
Evans’ play has continued to draw the attention of technical staffs around the league, as well as US National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who included Evans on a short list of players who are on-call for the current sequence of World Cup qualifying matches.
His success is hard to miss though.
In three starts on the left side of midfield, the Sounders are 2-0-1 and have outscored their opponents 9-2. However, he is not concerned with those types of statistics.
“I don’t buy into those stats. It’s just a good run of form for the team. It’s not because I’m playing on the left. I’m sure if Steve was there, we’d have way more attacking chances and probably more goals,” Evans said. “I just go out and try and play. That’s where I found myself. I’m filling in on the left and we need some defensive help.”
It’s certainly a good problem for Schmid to have – with the club’s depth allowing him to pick and choose his lineup based on form, matchup and strategy.
The Sounders have three matches remaining on their regular season schedule, starting next Wednesday at 7 pm against Real Salt Lake in a match that will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.