Sounders’ Brad Evans discusses being left off U.S. World Cup roster
Sounders FC’s Brad Evans opens up on being one of the final cuts from the U.S. national team’s final World Cup roster: “I bled for that team ... so it was a hard pill to swallow.”
Seattle Times staff reporter
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VANCOUVER, B.C. — Brad Evans is hurt. Of course he is.
Being one of the final cuts from the U.S. national team’s final World Cup roster is difficult to accept, especially having been a consistent starter the past year when healthy, including for five of the last seven World Cup qualifiers.
But Evans, a few days after hearing the disappointing news, has reached peace with the decision, and he isn’t looking for sympathy upon returning to action with Sounders FC in Saturday’s 2-2 tie against rival Vancouver.
“It’s not a sob story,” Evans said. “Nobody passed away. It’s part of the game. It is what it is. My career is not over. I’m not leaving the game. I’ve signed a new three-year contract. I’ve got nothing else but to be proud of what I’ve accomplished and what we continue to do here in Seattle.”
Evans remains on the USMNT’s standby list for the World Cup and can be added to the squad of 23 as an injury replacement, but his focus has shifted wholly to the Sounders. As team captain, there was little discussion on if he would take part in Saturday’s rivalry game.
“Emotionally, he said he felt fine and was ready to play,” said coach Sigi Schmid, who was willing to give Evans a break, mentally more than physically, if needed.
“There was never a worry about it,” said Evans, who started on the bench.
The Sounders were fortunate he was available; Evans entered the game as an injury replacement for veteran defender Djimi Traore, who suffered a groin injury.
Center back isn’t Evans’ preferred position — if one even exists anymore for the versatile 29-year-old — but it was a familiar one at the time. In a surprise to both Seattle and USMNT fans, Evans actually played mostly as a center back while in national team camp. Many had felt he was in competition to make the World Cup squad as a right back, where he had played exclusively in qualifying.
“So maybe I saw the writing on the wall initially when I got in,” Evans said.
Klinsmann made his final cuts Thursday, unexpected timing for outside observers but also the players. Evans had no indication his World Cup dreams would be dashed just 10 days into camp.
Evans recalled the conversation with USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann: “He just said, ‘I have to make a roster decision today and you’re not a part of it.’ So that’s where we left it. I got up and said goodbye to the players and that was it.
“Chop chop, you’re out of there.”
So does Evans feel Klinsmann already had a clear picture of his final 23 despite bring in 30 players to camp?
“Part of me says yes; part of me says no,” Evans said. “I don’t know. It’s something I haven’t even thought about. It’s tough to think about that (stuff). It can drive you nuts.”
While several pundits felt the Sounder had earned his ticket to Brazil, the sentiment was never shared by Evans, at least outwardly, and he said that attitude has helped him move on.
A long delay at the airport on the way back to Seattle gave Evans plenty of time to think — and also send out a joking tweet about how Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo got off easy in avoiding the potential head-to-head matchup.
Upon reflection, Evans said he looks back with his head high.
“I put a lot of effort into that team,” he said. “I bled for that team, and that’s what I do for any team that I’m on, so it was a hard pill to swallow. At the end of the day, it’s a decision that can’t be revoked. Now it’s time to move to the Sounders. With the support that I’ve gotten from the fans and my team, right now there is no other team I’d want to be with.”
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.