Like many players on the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster, Brad Evans is getting a new experience as part of the U.S. Men's National Team. Evans was a part of the U-20 Men's National Team that played at the World Cup in Holland in 2005 back when he was attending UC Irvine. On that team, Evans played right back but, as he would learn when he turned pro, sometimes it helps to be able to play many positions. For Columbus, Evans patrolled the middle of the park, helping the Crew to their first ever MLS Cup in 2008. He made the jump to Seattle in 2009, drafted by the Sounders and former Crew coach Sigi Schmid in the expansion draft, and has featured in a variety of positions across the midfield for the Western Conference's surprise package. We sat down with Brad and asked the Arizona native about his experience so far in Seattle and the opportunity to play in the Gold Cup with the Men's National Team...
ussoccer.com: Describe how you made it to Seattle and tell us how you like the city so far?
Brad Evans: "I love it. It was a whirlwind of events. We won the championship on Sunday, flew back to Columbus on Monday, and Tuesday I packed up my bags. Wednesday was the expansion draft and I was flying home and I got a text message that I'd been selected. It was a quick turnaround, but overall it's been great."
ussoccer.com: Before the Sounders you played with the Columbus Crew for two years, culminating in an MLS Cup title. Was that the perfect way to sign off from the Midwest?
BE: "It was cool. My first year I was injured pretty much the whole year and Sigi gave me a chance playing in the middle after somebody else was injured. We made a good run and it was obviously a great experience. You'd like to keep everybody together, but the league is like that."
ussoccer.com: How do you prepare for the expansion draft?
BE: You talk with your family and talk about the next step and whether it might or might not happen. It's just the nature of the business and it's one of those things that you get used to. Nothing is ever guaranteed and I'm obviously really happy that I'm here. Seattle is a great place."
ussoccer.com: Coming here in the expansion year of the franchise means you also get to be on the ground floor of the Sounders foundation and the experience here in the Pacific Northwest...
BE: "It's great to be a part of building that. The first year is something we'll all remember and so far it's been an experience none of us expected. We kept hearing in pre-season that 15,000 season tickets had been sold, then 18, then 22, then 25 thousand. We watched it grow from the beginning and got off to a good start and the city really got behind us. They've always had great attendance for USL games, and this is a testament to all the hard work at the club.
ussoccer.com: Describe that memorable first game in Sounders history...
BE: "In my career it was the second best feeling behind winning the MLS Cup. We had played a few closed-door scrimmages in Qwest, and then to all of a sudden go from that to 33,000 was pretty special. Everybody soaked in the moment and it was definitely full of emotion. Going in at halftime, we were telling each other that we couldn't hear what we were saying out on the field. I was losing my voice screaming and my ears were ringing like I was at a concert. It was pretty intense. Talking to the guys here [in MNT camp], they're all looking forward to coming here to play this season, and the guys that have played here already talk about the crazy atmosphere."
ussoccer.com: In Columbus you played in the midfield, but you've been used all over the place in your career. What's it like to lineup on different areas of the field?
BE: "Watching the game nonstop you get a feel for what other positions are like, and speaking with other guys on the field, noticing different tendencies that each position has. Part of it is also coaches having trust in you, and hopefully you have the smarts to play more than one position. It's only to your advantage if you can play everywhere. You have a better chance of making it if you can increase your odds."
ussoccer.com: Is that something you enjoy?
BE: "Yeah, I do. That's part of the reason I found a little bit of success with the U-20s, because if I didn't play right back there was no way I was going to make the final trip. It might not be ideal for you, but at the same time it's one of those things where if you put on the U.S. jersey, you kind of do whatever you can to get on the field and find a place to fit in."
ussoccer.com: You are teammates with Kasey Keller in Seattle, who played for the national team a few times in his career...Did he have anything to say after you got called in?
BE: "He took me aside and said congratulations. He's gone through this system and he told me about what to expect. In Seattle, you know all the guys and there's a looseness from day to day. In the national team it's a different atmosphere as far as putting on your thinking cap or your hard hat and getting down to work. Especially for me, in my first time getting called in, it's to my advantage to just do what I know, work hard and fit in. I want to learn as much as I can from a different coaching staff's point of view. It's always good to get a new idea and learn from different players. Kasey had nothing but positive feedback and he said 'good luck and work hard.'"
ussoccer.com:For a lot of the guys here this is a new experience. What's it like sitting down to meals with guys that you're normally preparing to play against week in and week out?
BE: "It's definitely different for sure. When you do pre-game meetings with your club, you circle the board and say 'watch out for this guy,' and all those guys that are circled are the guys that are here with the national team. It's pretty surreal in a way. It gives you a chance to measure yourself when you all get together, and it's a testament to all the guys that we're able to come from all different places and hopefully make a run at this while we put our trust in each other. You learn that these are all awesome guys and it's for sure a pleasure to be here."
ussoccer.com: How about off the field? Having new teammates is always a learning process...
BE: "I'm rooming with Robbie, just as we did in Columbus. I'm getting to know guys more and you learn that they're great guys. You learn little things about families and kids and things like that. You hear about their different experiences, like from the overseas guys, and you show them what we have here in Seattle. Just little things like that make it a good place to be."
ussoccer.com: Do you have a goal for this 2009 Gold Cup?
BE: "I thought about that a lot. It's kind of tough to have a goal' when you're called into your first camp, since this is just one step. There's an ultimate goal for sure, but once you're here it doesn't mean much if you're here just for one camp. It'd be great to be around as long as possible and get some playing time, but one goal is also to just learn as much as I can from the coaching staff and the players. Coming into this camp is definitely one goal but now you have to set another one, so I'll have to think about that a little bit..."
ussoccer.com: What's the best part about living in Seattle?
BE: The best part is for sure the water. I haven't been around the water since college [at UC Irvine] and it's been almost three years removed. My fiancee and I have a great spot in Kirkland that is walking distance from everything. Just being around the mountains and being able to take ferry's across Puget Sound to check out other places is fantastic."
ussoccer.com: Off the field, what's your favorite activity or the best way to relax?
BE: "I like to cook a lot. Robbie and I lived together, and Chad and I as well, so they've been able to taste the fruits of labor a little bit. I did a few cooking shows in Columbus which was pretty fun. My step-dad is a great cook. Phenomenal. So that's just something I learned from him. It's cool to relax, watch TV and throw something together."
ussoccer.com: Hmmm...[MNT Blog is hungry]...What is your signature dish?
BE: "Lately I bought a grill and everything has been through that. On Wednesdays we have a great farmers' market in Kirkland where there's just fresh meats, cheese, and vegetables. I throw basically anything on the grill: steaks, chicken, anything I can."