By John Boyle Herald Writer
Sounders FC will have to wait a little longer to have its full complement of players as it prepares for the 2013 season.
Four players have again been called in for national team duty, including midfielder Brad Evans and forward Eddie Johnson, who will join the U.S. national team for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier in Honduras. The Honduran team also will have Sounder representation in the form of midfielder Mario Martinez. Additionally, defender Adam Johansson is with Sweden preparing for this week’s friendly against Argentina. All four players are expected to join Sounders FC in Seattle when the team returns to continue its preseason training later this week.
“We’ve helped Brad continue to grow and develop as a player, and we’ve certainly helped Eddie get back into the fold, but it’s a tribute to them, it’s their work,” Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid told reporters at Seattle’s training session Monday in Casa Grande, Ariz. “It’s Eddie’s work that he’s done, it’s the work that Brad has done that has put them in that position, but it’s good, and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to that game.”
Johnson will try to build on the success he had in his return to national-team duty last fall. He was a regular on the U.S. team last decade, but fell out of favor as his career stalled out in Europe. Johnson’s strong play with Seattle last year got the attention of U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who brought Johnson in for a pair of World Cup qualifiers in October. In his first national-team action in more than two years, Johnson scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda.
For Evans, this is his first call-up for a World Cup qualifier. Evans played in last week’s friendly against Canada, and also represented his country in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but that team didn’t feature many of America’s top players, while the roster for Wednesday’s game is made up primarily of U.S. players who play professionally in Europe’s top leagues. Evans and Johnson are two of seven MLS players to be called in for the qualifier.
Evans, who has played primarily as a midfielder for Seattle, is listed as a defender on the U.S. roster released Monday. Evans, a player long known for his versatility, played right back during the second half of last week’s game against Canada, and with regular U.S. starting right back Steve Cherundulo sidelined with a knee injury, Evans could see playing time at that spot.
“Any time you get called up to the national team, it’s always special, and you always remember certain moments,” Evans told MLSsoccer.com. “Like when you put on the jersey for the first time or step on the field for the first time, score your first goal, whatever it may be. So obviously this, the first time being called up for a qualifier, is something that I’ll always remember.”
With defender Patrick Ianni sidelined with a foot fracture, Sounders FC is looking at options at center back. Currently training with the team in Arizona are a pair of veteran backs, Djimi Traore and Shavar Thomas. Traore, 32, won a European championship with Liverpool in 2005, and most recently played for Marseille of France. Thomas, also 32, is a long-time MLS veteran who played for the Montreal Impact last season, appearing in 15 games, starting 13 . … Seattle plays Portland at 9:30 a.m. PT today in its first training game of the preseason. The game can be seen at MLSsoccer.com and SoundersFC.com.
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com.