When Sounders FC plays at Columbus, it's a reunion for some
Sounders FC assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson and midfielder Brad Evans join coach Sigi Schmid in returning to Columbus for the first time since winning the MLS Cup last season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Columbus, 4:30 p.m., KONG
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TUKWILA — Top two story lines as Sounders FC gets ready to play the Columbus Crew this weekend:
• The return of Seattle coach Sigi Schmid to Columbus, the franchise he led to the Major League Soccer championship last season.
• Sounders FC is in search of points to bolster its chances of making the playoffs.
Not necessarily in that order. But there are other subplots, one of which is the return of assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson and midfielder Brad Evans, who both earned championship rings with the Crew in 2008.
Evans said he hopes for a positive reaction from the Crew fans, notably the Nordecke supporters group section.
"It was a situation where it wasn't my choice in leaving," Evans said. "Obviously I'm happy here [in Seattle] and I wouldn't have changed anything if I could have, the way things turned out. I don't think there's going to be any negativity toward me because it wasn't my choice."
Evans came to Sounders FC in the expansion draft last year after he was left unprotected by the Crew.
Undoubtedly, Columbus is all Ohio State Buckeyes, all the time. But Hendrickson feels the Crew has its niche with the sports fans in town.
"Especially with this game, with Sigi and Brad Evans and myself coming back, there's going to be a big crowd," said Hendrickson, who retired from playing after last season. "Everybody wants to see Seattle play."
Hendrickson spent the final three of his 12 MLS seasons with the Crew playing for Schmid and was also on a few of Schmid's Los Angeles Galaxy teams. Upon Hendrickson's retirement, Schmid urged him to take a licensed coaching course, from which Hendrickson earned his professional "B" level certification. That was good enough for Schmid to bring him on board as second assistant.
"Once my decision was that, yes, I'm going to retire and then coach, then yeah, it was something I really wanted to do," Hendrickson said. "Taking the exam was the first step in that direction."
Hendrickson's job is to work with Sounders FC's defenders and break down video from the previous game, and also look for video clips on upcoming opposing players who are key to those teams' attacks.
"It's good to have somebody who's not that far removed from having played because they have a little bit better feel sometimes for what players are thinking, so when you have discussions as a coaching staff they can offer that view," Schmid said of Hendrickson.
Evans' favorite memory of his two years with the Crew was winning the Eastern Conference championship game at Crew Stadium last fall.
"The most important thing was the locker room [camaraderie] there," Evans said. "Really similar to what we have here, which is tough to find. You'll talk to most players, and some teams are a little bit more divided. We have a really strong locker room here, which is what we had there, and that's the key to being successful. ... You miss the guys and the relationships you built."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE - 8:54 PM
Sounders lose to another expansion team
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