Brad Evans has spent plenty of time around Kyle Beckerman in the last few days. Chris Wondolowski too.
And while Sounders FC supporters may not be too fond of the pair of US National Team players who have been a handful for the Sounders in the last few years with Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes, respectively, Evans assures that they are some of the nicest guys in Major League Soccer.
Heck, if they got to know either of them, Seattle fans may learn to love Beckerman and Wondolowski.
“When we play against Salt Lake and Kyle Beckerman is screaming all over the field at the ref and other players and fouling people, I’m sure Seattle fans just hate him,” Evans laughed from US National Team camp in Carson, California. “Then you get here and everybody is a normal, super nice guy. Wondo is the same way. Some guys are just Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s so strange. If you met any of these guys, they are all not at all like they are perceived on the field. They would give you the shirt off their back.”
Evans is at January training camp, along with Sounders FC teammate Eddie Johnson and a group of 23 other players from around MLS, as well as Norway, Sweden and Germany. The US will meet Canada in a friendly at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium on January 29, but in the meantime, they are doing fitness work and testing while bonding with a group of players that features just three players with more than 20 caps with the US.
Evans, who has six appearances, is rooming with Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber and the duo have done their part to keep the mood light in between the intense training sessions that, until Thursday morning, had not featured the use of soccer balls.
“We’ve known each other for a long time and that makes things easier. Our personalities together bring out some laughter within most of the guys,” Evans said. “When it’s a stressful environment, it’s good to get that banter going.”
Some of that banter has included talk with 22-year-old midfielder Mikkel Diskerud. In 2010 when the Sounders went to Spain for preseason training in La Manga, they faced Diskerud and Stabaek when he played for that Norwegian club. Now with Rosenborg, Diskerud reminded Evans of Seattle’s trip to Spain. However Evans was in his first US camp at the time and didn’t make the trip to Spain.
He did quickly learn, though, that Diskerud’s family lives near his own in the Phoenix.
“Little connections like that make things a little bit easier,” Evans noted.
The days go by quickly, with constant shifts from one planned event to another. They have done fitness testing and weight training and meet each day with a nutritionist to help personalize menus to meet their nutritional needs. They even adjust the menu to mix things up a bit.
Each evening, though, the players are on their own for dinner and that is when they get the chance to decompress from the difficult workload and unwind with their teammates.
It is there that Evans has also spent time with former Sounder Jeff Parke, who was traded to the Philadelphia Union in the off-season so Parke could raise his newborn daughter close to his family.
“It’s weird knowing that he’s not coming back to our team. I’m happy for him that he gets to be back near his home with family and his own family is now well under way,” Evans said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet that he’s not going to be there next year, though.”
Each night, when the players return from dinner, they find a sheet of paper under their hotel room door with the next day’s schedule. With the friendly against Canada still over two weeks away, Evans expects more of the same on the schedule, with fitness ruling the day for at least another week.
We will learn more about his time at Camp Klinsmann next week as we continue our weekly check-in with Evans. Let us know what you want to hear from him.