Top Seattle Sounders FC officials agree that Brad Evans had a bad night Saturday in the 3-2 loss to San Jose.
They also agree they’re sticking with him, as he attempts to convert into a center back after spending most of his career as a midfielder.
“It doesn’t change anything,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “When you look back … I think last year we were pretty consistent with how we approached (goalkeeper) Stefan Frei, and there were a lot of goals there where people said, ‘Oh, maybe we need to change.’ We didn’t, and it worked out well for us at the end of the day. I think (Evans) had a bad game, and I think he’d be the first one to admit that.”
On Wednesday, in Evans’ first public comments since the match, he did admit it.
“You learn from it and you move on, and you don’t repeat those mistakes,” he said. “… I don’t need to watch the tape. I know what happened; I have my own tape in my mind. And when you come out to practice, you recognize those situations and make sure they don’t happen again.”
Over the offseason, the Sounders asked Evans to convert to center back, filling the position rotated last season among Djimi Traore, who has retired; Jalil Anibaba, who was lost in the expansion draft; and veteran Zach Scott, who remains with the team.
On opening day, Evans started alongside Chad Marshall and got generally good reviews in a 3-0 win over the New England Revolution. However, Evans was implicated in all three San Jose goals last weekend: the first two by Chris Wondolowski, and then the eventual game-winner by Innocent Emeghara.
Evans said he believes the miscues weren’t so much related to learning a new position as simply having an off night. However, his new position was relevant in at least one way.
“When you make one of those mistakes at center back, that’s it, it’s pretty much game over,” Evans said. “That same mistake at midfield is dealt with and you move forward in the game. The first one … I thought I could win the header — I knew that he was there. The second one, uncharacteristic, just flat-out my fault. That’ll never happen again. It’s be replaying in my mind four days straight. The third one, I probably step up too high, and then I slip and he’s in.”
Evans missed training Tuesday due to the death of his grandmother. In his absence, Schmid and general manager Garth Lagerwey reaffirmed their faith in his ability to make the conversion.
“It’s something that’s going to continue, and there’s going to be a learning curve for sure,” Lagerwey said. “We back Brad, and we support him, and he’s our captain, and he’s a guy that’s going to be very important to us as we go forward.”
On Wednesday, Evans was back at training and apparently still among the starters at center back.
But for all the support, the ninth-year pro acknowledged that at some point patience will give way to the need for production.
“I guess it’s good that it’s out of the system early in the season,” he said. “But obviously, if I’m a coach and those are consistent mistakes that are happening, you have to remove the player. So I know that as well as any person, player ... does. And maybe there’s a better position for me after all, but time will tell.”
Marshall was held out of training Wednesday, recovering from a fall he took after executing a bicycle kick on a clearance in front of the Seattle goal Saturday. He is expected back at training Thursday.
Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (groin) and right back Tyrone Mears (hamstring) also were held out of team work.