Sounders FC centerbacks healthy and ready for huge matchup with Houston

When Sounders FC takes the field on Sunday against a Houston team fighting for their postseason lives, Seattle’s duo of centerbacks will certainly play a crucial role.

Despite that Chad Marshall is recovering from a neck sprain and Brad Evans played 90 minutes for the U.S. Men’s National Team on Tuesday, Head Coach Sigi Schmid says there’s no reason to believe they won’t be ready for Sunday. Even if one of them is unable to go, the Sounders know they can rely on Zach Scott, who has played extensive minutes alongside both Evans and Marshall.

Evans will return to training on Friday, while Marshall has practiced three straight days this week. According to goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the reigning Defender of the Year looks good as new.

“I was joking with Chad about how he had that previous neck problem when the car hit him, and I think this corrected it and set him straight,” Frei said, referring to a car accident last year that caused Marshall to miss two games. “He looks good out there. I was very surprised to see him moving the way he is. It’s huge for us, because he’s an integral part of the team.”

Marshall sat out last week’s 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy, marking the eighth game he’s missed in two seasons with the Rave Green. Seattle is 2-0-3 without him this year.

“We’re still going through the heading protocol, but he should be fine for this weekend,” Head Coach Sigi Schmid said of Marshall. “If anything, we’re holding the reigns on him more so than anything right now just to make sure we don’t do something silly.”

Marshall’s centerback partner for most of this season, Evans started on the right side of the USMNT backline in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica. The Sounders FC captain partnered with former teammate DeAndre Yedlin on the right wing and made a vital defensive play inside the box, blocking Johan Venegas’ attempt on an open net just before halftime of the international friendly.

Evans made his 25th career appearance for the USMNT in the match. Despite the ending result, Schmid felt his captain performed admirably at a position he hasn’t played much this year.

“I thought Brad did well,” Schmid said. “If you get three, four games in a row, just as he proved at centerback this year, your confidence will grow and your ability to play will improve. I thought he did well. Obviously it wasn’t a good result for the team, and the team’s surely disappointed, but I thought from a personal standpoint it was a good game for Brad.”

The Sounders hope Evans can put together another solid defensive performance this weekend, when they aim to earn a road victory over the Dynamo. Three points would secure Seattle’s spot in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs with one game to spare.

“We control our own destiny,” Schmid said. “As long as we take care of what we need to take care of, we’ll get to where we want to go. That’s the best position to be in.”

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