Okay, first and foremost; A lot of love to Brad Evans and his US Mens National Team call-up. The guy, regardless of what other critics say. Deserves it and has been one of Sigi’s field Generals out on the pitch. I know that I’ve talked about using Evans as a piece to deal in order to get under the salary cap. I’m not against that. I think he’s a great starter in this league and could be incredible useful for many, many teams. Me, talking about selling him off, bleeds more from wondering with how much he’s getting paid and the many different options we already have if it doesn’t serve the Sounders best interest in using him in that context.
That’s neither here nor there. Really it’s another discussion.
The point really is what to make of his role with this at the National Team level. For whatever reason there seems to be a lot of mistaken identify of what Brad Evans does on the pitch. A lot of people talking about using him in a defensive context and he’s solid ball winner and certainly has the mind to help mitigate the attack, but we’ve seen Evans evolve this year from being just being a centre midfielder. He’s a guy that’s be used as a winger and left side midfielder.
Here is an interesting little stat I dug up, when going through the 2012 Sounder Pass Matrix, Evans was actually second on the team passes to forwards. Trailing only the Honey Badger himself with 290 total passes. Now, this isn’t intended to imply a degree of value over Rosales or even Tiffert, who was only here for a full 3 months anyways. There is no degree of quality or location. So they could all just be really quick one touches with runs. Evans was even 4th in minutes played so it’s hard to really take a counting stat at face value.
My point is this… you could use him interchangeably with Graham Zusi and the guys over at Best Soccer Show even alluded to that ever so briefly. But what he brings is so much different than what Zusi does. He’s a guy that’s going to put the ball on the ground and he’s a guy that is going to play solid defence while doing it.Positionally he’s great at putting himself near the goal and giving the guys opportunities to find him. He’s very Alan Gordon/Chris Wondolowski-esque, in the sense that he has a great nose for how to score goals and how to find people in goal scoring situations.
As the guys over at Sounder[at]Heart have pointed out, that’s what Sigi’s system is all about. It’s about turn around and put the ball in the net. Keep the defenders back pedling and keep them working. Evans does that and he’s a bull dog with his work rate which is what makes him perfect for the Sounders.
There are certainly fair arguments that can be had. Evans isn’t on top of the player pool at any position and really is only going to be considered under extreme circumstances, so I do understand why some DC United fans are confused about the lack of Perry Kitchen, Whitecaps’ Jay DeMerit (which I still don’t get why he’s so far removed from the National Team picture) or even Dan Kennedy from Chivas. There were more deserving guys. I’ll admit that…
But then again you may remember, there was a situation that occurred back in October that Evans was considered very intently by Mens’ National Coach Klinsmann. Injuries to both Brek Shea and Landon Donovan left Zusi as one of the few wide players in camp for group play against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala. Two essential and key games for the US. With Donovan further out of the picture–at this point, anyways–and questions still circling about what the depth looks like for the US going into Hex play, calling in Evans is a solid plan.
I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed at this point that I didn’t buy my tickets for Houston for a chance to see Evans a long with Eddie out wearing the red + white hoops and representing our country.