Photo by ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
WASHINGTON — Brad Evans fully understood the circumstances. A starting assignment for the U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of World Cup qualifying is an imposing task. Getting the test in front of 47,359 against a supremely talented Germany side only heightens the pressure. So does lining up at a fairly unfamiliar position.
But in Evans’ mind, it was “good pressure — all positive.” And before his start at right back Sunday, he got some advice from veteran Michael Bradley: Just complete a few passes. Find a groove. Get some confidence.
“Try to look at it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Evans thought. “And if you do well, it turns into more experiences. Take it in stride.”
As U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made clear after the Americans’ 4-3 win at RFK Stadium, more of those experiences are in the cards for Evans as the U.S. heads into qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras.
“Brad Evans showed exactly what we wanted to see,” Klinsmann said. “This gives us a good option. This gives us stability there.”
Evans got that shot at right back thanks to the absences of Steve Cherundolo and Timothy Chandler, as well as versatile defender Geoff Cameron’s tough outing there in a 4-2 loss to Belgium on Wednesday.
Marking dangerous Arsenal winger Lukas Podolski, Evans largely held his own defensively while also mixing high-percentage passes with entry balls lofted into the attacking third.
“We talked about watching the one-twos and tracking runners,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “He did a fantastic job. When he got stood up one on one, he forced the guy into going right or going left and then got his body. I really thought he was good. It was impressive.”
Added centerback Matt Besler: “He did everything you can ask for.”
Although Evans typically plays central and wide midfield for the Seattle Sounders, the 28-year-old showed his poise at right back while playing there during the second half of a scoreless draw with Canada in January.
Evans, though, is quick to point out that when it comes to truly comprehending the position’s intricacies, he still has plenty of room for growth — particularly in his distribution.
“When things get tight, I’m still learning where that next ball is,” Evans said. “When you’re in the midfield, you can turn play back, you can turn and switch a long ball. But when you’re at right back, when things start to get small, you got maybe one or two options: maybe lump the ball long or try to play the ball to Timmy.”
Yes, Evans is still a work in progress at right back. But he is one Klinsmann seems perfectly comfortable depending on if the circumstances call for it come qualifying time.
“He has the vision, he has the technique,” Klinsmann said. “He’s strong and good at one against ones, and he doesn’t shy away from overlapping as well.
“He took his chance — as simple as that.”