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.”
Evans is consistently underrated. Having avidly watched him in Columbus during our cup-winning season, I am convinced that his contribution to that team was (wait for it) MASSIVE. Was very sorry to see him leave in the expansion draft. He does the work others don’t want to do, and he does it well. His long passes on Sunday were some of the best I’ve seen from a US defender, well-weighted and properly lofted. He more or less contained Podolski, a non-trivial task to be sure. I agree it would be nice if he were a bit
pacier, but you can’t have it all, he is at least athletic and his work rate is solid.
Pretty sure Evans is used to playing in front of 40,000+ by now. Sounders averaged close to 47,000 last season.
I’m not a big Evans fan and worry this may be setting us up for a fall, but the upcoming opponents have athletes that demand something faster than Spector or Parkhurst, and perhaps higher soccer IQ than Cameron.
I would say that the effectiveness of Beasley, Besler, and Evans during the week, counter-balanced against the rough nights some of the stick figures like Goodson and Gonzalez had, may speak to a baseline level of speed and work rate that we should not dip below at the international level. Given how positional and passive and slow our defense has been of late — with perhaps a Mexico exception — it was almost shocking to watch defenders recovering well, or getting stuck in. That is one thing a little speed buys you. Klinsi has boxed himself in with some of the injuries and personnel choices but he might consider trending more athletic in the back, if it’s already going to be a soft spot. I’d much rather watch Beasley hustling after plays, even if he messes up, than watch Goodson with barely one shot to make a play, and maybe this time the guy goes right by and either scores or gets bundled over.
One thing that Sounders fans have learned over the years is that Brad Evans’ best position is the one in which he is asked to play. He’s better on the outsides (right and left mid, right back) as opposed to up the middle (DM or CAM), but really he can play anywhere (when you need him to or when the situation dictates).
Quietly goes about his business, makes great late runs into the box, good in the air, good passer, blah blah blah. If only he were a better finisher and as fast as Marvell Wynne.
Glad to see him take his chance yesterday and stay in the mix for the qualifying roster and even a starting role. Looking forward to seeing him @ RB vs. Panama in 8 days!
I’m a Sounders fan too and generally the best position he plays is the one where he is sitting on the bench. He’s the 7th best midfield player on the team and somehow starts a lot. Mostly because of injuries. He basically is a utility player that you put in when people are hurt. There is another US player at right back on Seattle and his name is DeAndre Yedlin. He is much better than Evans at RB. Maybe he should be getting looks.
I was impressed…but Drew Moor was impressive too as I recall. Hopefully he’ll develop.
Well said. I was done with Drew after he let in 2 against Mexico in that February Friendly. I did not cry he FC Dallas let him go.
JK previously stated that he thought Evans could be an option at right or left fullback…he did well on the right. When do we get to see him on the left with Johnson at flank mid…Beas and Castillo are not options if Fab is at flank mid.
he did well and his performance shut me up. he deserves another go. he looked solid.
No doubt about it, Evans put in a solid performance in an overall — and surprising — stunning team performance, arguably the best of the Klinsmann era despite the defensive problems in the second half. The Big Question is: Can Evans do it again (and again and again). He certainly earned the right for a second chance and I would be happy to see him start at RB against Jamaica. All that said, I still think Cameron at this time is a better right back, although it is definitely conceivable that Evans, if he keeps playing the position, could move past Cameron. And the other point (get ready to groan Lichaj haters), is that Lichaj should have also been given a chance to show what he can do now at right back in a US shirt.
i agree with everything you posted–evans totally shocked me with a solid performance, and i would love to see if it wasn’t just a one-hit wonder.
and i had nothing against evans specifically; my only issue was that we didn’t even call up the natural right back from a top league. ecstatic that it worked out.
Hmm, as others have said, JK isn’t very consistent.
Cameron can’t play CB for USMNT because he doesn’t play that position for his club, but Evans plays RB for USMNT even though he doesn’t play that for his club?
Lichaj isn’t getting lots of minutes for his club, but he plays RB. But, he wasn’t brought into camp for a possible GC roster spot.
That said, I was glad to see how well Evans did. I hadn’t seen him play much before this, but he really impressed me. He and Zuzi didn’t combine as well as Johnson & Beas on the other side, but Evans held the spot well.
Evans was ball watching on Germany’s third goal. If he had prevented that one…
Yup me too. But it was a friendly and he may get his chance to work up the depth chart Friday against Jamaica. Lets see if he steps up on a bad pitch in tough conditions.
Where is SammySounder??? The one guy who actually believed in this! Take a bow sir!
Comments from SBI’s pre-germany evans post.
Guess that Klinsmann guy knows what he’s doing being a professional coach and everything.
Keyboard Warriors Unite!
This was certainly a positive reflection of Klinsmann, but previous criticism of him can still be valid.
Thing about Klinsmann so far is he’s always tinkering and toying with letting things spin out of control from a fan standpoint (different lineups and changing tactics). US fans get nervous and were on the brink of an internet riot. BUT then he busts out of the darkness with a shining ray of light.
Ives is right not to get up or down on individual US results.
Wait, Howard goes by “Timmy?” Dude is scary. I would call him “Mr. Howard, sir.”
The level of ignorance on this site over what a keeper should and should not be able to do is astounding sometimes. Then again, since this is the same spot where folks opine that if a striker doesn’t score a bucket of goals he’s lazy and when he does it’s only against inferior competition, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
It’s the reality of how good the US keepers have to be in order to keep the US level with potent opposition. It’s a US tradition- the US hasn’t gotten to the point where we can forgo amazing goal keeper displays.
In short, if our goal keepers are having reasonably good games, we’re in trouble. It’s an unreasonable standard. That doesn’t mean that it has to be met.
It still has to be met. Strange word choice.
BTW, agree about Jozy being lazy comments not holding water.
It is not only Howard and Jozey. I have heard Dempsey called lazy and shiftless, Bradley playing because his father is the coach, Landon soft and worthless and JJ bush league. And these are our better players. The others especially Sasha and Bornstein get trashed beyond belief. The one thing consistent about most of the posters is the need to strike out with ignorance and hate towards everyone that puts on a national team shirt.
Well said. But I would have struck at at Lalas who seems to want to lead the chorus of whiners.
Agreed PD. We as a fan base have taken the GK position for granted since Tony Meola. We’ve pretty much had it covered since then and a little hiccup here or there at that position seems to bring a panic amongst a few folks…..
Don’t misunderstand me. I think that critiquing is a good thing, but I think we owe it to ourselves to raise the bar a bit about our collective IQ of the sport. There are some real smart folks posting here, too and I come here to learn from their observations as much as to read the articles. So when I see nonsense like “the goalkeeper let up a rebound, let’s ax him” it drives me a little nutty. If you think Guzan deserves more minutes, fine. Say that. But don’t say that you think he should be #1 because the other keeper lets in legitimate goals.
I’m with you PD. I’m just saying it’s nice to know that Guzan and Howard can both keep each other on there toes. Losing one and replacing him with the other is certainly not a drop in talent or performance for either. Howard just came off an injury and Guzan was more than a viable replacement. Similar to the back and forth between Keller and Freidel of yesteryear….
If Howard doesn’t have one of his beast games pretty soon, there will be criticism, and worry.
American keepers are in a unique position. I don’t know of any national team that has the same expectations. The identity of the US is amazing goal keeping, hard defensive work, and moments of offensive potency. That’s the US in a nut shell. Nothing has changed.
If anyone says that Guzan or Howard suck, they are idiots. But the idea that fans worrying over Howard not looking like the proverbial immovable object are completely valid. It can be dismissed as idiocy and hate, but nobody has stated that Howard isn’t good, or much less that they hate him.
If the US goes into qualifiers without incredible goal keeping to back up the team, things will get dicey. If it’s not there in the World Cup, we can’t expect to make it out of the group. That’s the reality. If these understandable rebounds straight to opposing players keep happening, this team is sunk. The defense needs to improve, but the reality is, whoever in goal needs to bail them out, and come up with wonder saves to keep the team in games. Howard is not at that level right now- you can tell just by looking at what Keepers for the United States have been doing since Freidel and Meola.
The team doesn’t just expect greatness from our goal keepers. We one hundred percent need it.
Jeeeezus dude!….If you show such low confidence in our Goalkeepers, you might as well forget about supporting the USA…PERIOD!!!!
I thought Evans would a complete disaster. He played well. I’m not sure if he’s ready to handle a more intense environment, but he’ll get his chance now. I particularly liked his balls over to top, which we need more of.
I was in the stadium, so I wasn’t sure who was at fault on the goals, but Gonzalez showed that he’s still got to think quicker and pressure his man more. I still think him and Besler should start, and work out the kinks.
I’m becoming concerned about the goal keeping. We need our keepers to be stellar every game, but at the moment, neither Howard nor Guzan are quite at that level. You can say that Howard’s rebound against Belgium and against Germany were understandable, but I’ve never seen Howard fail to handle those before.
I was kind of hoping to see Guzan start against Germany to see where he is. Our keepers are good, but they have to be better for the US to get the right results.
Props to Jurgen and even more props to Brad himself. Well done.
I’m still not sure if I put him above Cameron in the RB pecking order (despite the Belgium game), but it’s great to have depth that’s for sure. Also obviously adds versatility to shifting Cameron to the seemingly preferred CB role, but even though Gonzo is frustrating the heck out of me, I’m still high on the Gonzo/Besler pairing going forward.
Not sold on him yet, but his play looked good and he won the right for more playing time.
yes, I completely agree.
I am one of the ones exasperated by Klinsmann’s continuous game of musical positions, but this one worked out. We’ll see how he does in the longer-term.
Evans is a good player, obviously he isn’t world class or anything like that but he put in a good outing yesterday. He is a decent backup for the US in some games due to his versatility and his ability to get forward. I never completely understood the hate for him, seemed to be just a general hate on all MLS based players at times. He is what he is, a decent player but nothing special. He wont be playing any RB for his club team there so people hoping for development at that position for him are going to be disappointed.
I am a long time Sounder’s fan, but not that big of Evans fan because he really doesn’t create much and scoring is not going to happen ( except PKs ).
He is solid though and I think he looks great at RB.
Guzan needs to be given a chance to start. Howard let’s in goals, Guzan’s our better option right now
Guzan just let in 3 against Belgium last week, blaming all goals on the goalie is not good logic.
I’d be more worried with Gonzalez at this point than Howard.
The difference is Guzan is a strong option for Howard, but I don’t see a strong option for Gonzalez. And in all fairness to Omar, he’s young and doesn’t have many caps.
All goalkeepers give up goals. Goal 1 umarked head on a corner = no chance. Goal 2, partial screen/slight deflection from CB dragging leg out after committing to flight of ball once he saw it. Goal 3 diving save that he nearly gotta hand on. All three goals were legit. I’m not saying Guzan isn’t quality and well onhiswaytobeingthenumber1 in time, I just do not see replacing Howard as an issue, let alone due his recent form.
Great performance yesterday. I would like to see him transfer to a team where he could receive time at right back. He has no future in the midfield with the USMNT, but he could claim a spot as the 2nd/3rd RB with a good finish to the year.
O/T but a few years down the road, if our RB options are depleted and we have some players step up in the midfield (Diskerud, Pelosi, Morales, etc) what would you think of seeing Michael Bradley at RB? I personally think it would be worth a look (Once he starts aging of course).
That would be nice, but as a 28-year-old switching positions, I don’t think he’d garner any attention at all from better leagues, especially since he’s under contract with Seattle who values him very highly.
Bradley at RB? He is arguably our most important player in terms of the influence he has on control of the game, he needs to stay in the middle.
No, just no.
Evans did well, he proved a lot of people wrong including myself.
I don’t think one friendly proves anything. I hope he’s fantastic, but the next three games are the real tests.
Evans was OK, I give Evans a 5 or 5.5 vs Germany.
Why so low? What did he do wrong?
I give him partial blame on the third goal for letting Draxler in but if Timmy doesn’t give up the rebound then we are not talking ’bout any mental lapses or bone headed plays.
I give him a solid 6.0
Evans was OK, not great.
Better than Cameron, probably equal with Chandler and Parkhurst, still nowhere near Cherundolo.
Current Cherundolo/Chandler? Who knows. Easily better than Parkhurst imo– more athletic and he’s actually been getting games. That was a great performance by Evans.
To clarify, I don’t mean to say that Evans is overall as good a RB as Cherundolo/Chandler, just that his performance against Germ was arguably as good as a typical Cherunds/Chandler performance. We’ll see if he can replicate his latest outing.
Line-up just needs some consistency… Two games with Gonzo and Besler would have been easier to judge Evans/Cameron… Either seems like a great choice, but at this point I just want some consistency in the lineup
With the ball on the ground Dolo is equal to or maybe a slight bit better but in the air Evans (whom I have never seen play before ) seemed to be far superior.