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Originally published Friday, July 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Sounders FC's Brad Evans getting some national team experience

Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans is playing for the U.S. national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but his Sounders FC teammates aren't far from his thoughts.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Brad Evans wished he could have been in Portland with his Sounders FC teammates for that wild atmosphere at PGE Park Wednesday. But Evans has another duty to fulfill — a U.S. national team call-up for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Evans practiced with the U.S. team Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex even as his Sounders FC mates got their work in on an adjacent field. The next time he takes the pitch for a game could be in red, white and blue on the Fourth of July, not in his customary rave green.

The U.S. faces Grenada at 6 p.m. Saturday at Qwest Field for its opening match of group play in the Gold Cup, the national team championship tournament of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The U.S. is the defending champion.

"When you hear your anthem and you step on the field, it's a select group of guys from everywhere that are for one common goal," Evans said. "Similar to club, but you have some foreigners [in Major League Soccer]. It's all the same guys for one goal and it's definitely special."

Evans is a midfielder with Sounders FC, yet he was playing right fullback for Team USA. The U.S. squad in Seattle this week isn't the same group that made a dramatic run through the Confederations Cup in South Africa last week, except for a few players. Evans is taking advantage of the opportunity to get good coaching and more feedback on his play.

"He's really been a part of Seattle's success," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "He's a good competitor and athletic. He's had experience in the past with the U-20 team. It's a very good time to assess him in this group."

Meaning that Evans, 24, is being looked at to see where he might fit in the national team pool down the road. Before the Gold Cup, Evans represented the U.S. as a member of its under-20 team for about a year, which was coached by his boss in Seattle, Sigi Schmid.

There's no guarantee Evans will get on the field for the U.S., and he's obligated to remain with the team until its Gold Cup run ends. The Gold Cup final is July 26, so assuming the U.S. gets that far, Evans would miss Sounders FC games against Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup; Houston; the friendly with Chelsea July 18; another regular-season match against the Chicago Fire; and potentially another U.S. Open Cup match, if Seattle makes it to the tournament semifinals.

"The most important thing is missing league games," Evans said. "If it was next month it would be a real concern because next month is loaded with league games. But this month we only have two league games in the time that I'll be gone. To be honest, it's a good time, if any, to be missing league games."

Evans is keeping up with his team even as his country has beckoned. He watched the Portland game on TV after practice with the national team.

"You wish you could just get down there and help out as much as you can," Evans said, "but everybody on the Sounders has trust in each other and full trust in the guys in the middle getting it done."

Note

• Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller said the Seattle-Portland rivalry, which will intensify in two years when the Timbers enter MLS, will be "tremendous" after renovations are made to PGE Park, including a new playing surface. "I really see myself having to play at least one more year, because I really want to be a part of this, if my body's willing. So far it feels OK," he said. Keller is signed through 2010.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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