Brad Evans took note when Seattle Sounders FC invested in its midfield this summer by bringing in Christian Tiffert from Germany and Mario Martinez from Honduras.
“What went through my mind (was) a little bit of second guessing, for sure,” he said Monday. “… (I) kinda pushed my head down and kept working, and luckily for whatever reason I’ve been playing pretty decent as of late. When you sign two midfielders, it kind of pushes you a little bit more. … Now we have an extremely deep bench at midfield, and everybody’s got to step up their game, … myself included.”
Evans doubled down on one of his strengths – versatility – by shifting to left midfield Saturday and making the most of his opportunity by scoring the first goal in Seattle’s 6-2 win at Chivas USA.
In Major League Soccer play this season, Evans has started 13 times at central midfield, six times at right midfield and has been an option as a defender.
He called his versatility, “a blessing and a curse.”
“Right now, if I only played one position I’d probably find myself on the outside looking in,” Evans said. “So, … it’s a good thing that I’ve been able to play other positions, find myself on the field.”
Evans figures the Sounders started this season with half of the starting midfield firmly claimed by Mauro Rosales and Osvaldo Alonso. Now, Tiffert seems to be taking over the central midfield spot.
That leaves left midfield.
“It’s still a midfield position and the concepts are the same,” Evans said. “(Assistant coach Brian) Schmetzer asked me before the game, ‘Do you have any questions about playing left mid?’ (I replied) ‘No, I’ve played right mid. It’s just on the other side.’ It’s much of the same. You watch players play … and you kind of learn on the fly. It’s been all right.”
The arrival of Martinez and the ongoing recovery of Steve Zakuani increases competition on the left. Both played off the bench Saturday.
For Evans, scoring a goal and assisting on the first goal of Fredy Montero’s hat trick staked his claim. He also played a part in Sammy Ochoa’s late goal.
Coach Sigi Schmid appreciates Evans.
“If we took a poll amongst other teams, which players they want, his is a name that always comes up,” Schmid said.” It’s because of his versatility, his ability to play different positions, and now he’s showing that ability to get forward late.”
Playing time should be available this week with a CONCACAF Champions League match at Caledonia AIA of Trinidad on Thursday and an MLS match Sunday at FC Dallas.
THREE NOT ENOUGH
MLS has had six hat tricks this season. After the first five, that player was named MLS player of the week.
The exception came Monday, when Montero was edged by Columbus forward Federico Higuain, who had three goals and an assist in two victories last week. Higuain got 10 of 22 first-place votes to Montero’s nine.
While Montero didn’t get the weekly award, he seemed happy – and a bit relieved – to join Blaise Nkufo, Lamar Neagle and David Estrada on the Sounders’ list of those who scored three in a game.
“After my teammates score a hat trick, obviously I got the opportunity to think, ‘You know, someday I hope to score a hat trick, too,’ ” he said Monday.firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8808 blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt