By John Boyle Herald Writer
TUKWILA — After leaving the Seattle Sounders’ second game with a calf injury, Brad Evans thought he might need a couple of days rest.
Instead, Evans has been sidelined for a month, missing not only four games for Seattle, but also what for him was a crucial chance to impress U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Now, a little later than he’d hoped, Evans is expected to return to action when the Sounders play at Chivas USA on Saturday.
“It’s just good to be back outside again and not watching from the sideline,” Evans said after practicing fully Thursday.
Before he was able to return to the practice field, Evans stayed in shape by, well, we’ll let him explain it: “I broke the rowing machine like three times these past four weeks out of frustration.”
The midfielder has been off the rowing machine and back to practicing all week, and while Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said he hasn’t yet decided whether or not Evans will start Saturday, he should at least be available.
“He’s come through all of the practices this week really well, so I think he’s 100 percent healthy,” Schmid said. “Is he 100 percent fit to go 90 minutes? Maybe not at this stage, but that’s something that will come shortly.”
What made Evans’ extended absence all the more surprising was that it wasn’t expected. Evans took a kick to his calf during Seattle’s Week 2 loss to Toronto, and didn’t even immediately come out of the game. That injury, called a contusion at the time, wasn’t thought to be serious. But as Schmid noted, Evans might have pushed too hard to get back quickly, and an eventual MRI showed a hematoma had formed in his calf.
“It was definitely frustrating,” Evans said. “One day you feel good, then one day you don’t feel good, so it was a slow process.”
Evans, one of the few remaining Sounders left from the team’s inaugural 2009 season and one of their most important players, has been missed, though Seattle did manage to go 2-1-1 without him.
“Brad’s the kind of guy when he’s on the field … he’s one of the guys who’s organizing and talking to people and directing people,” Schmid said. “When Brad’s not in there, that’s the part of it that you miss sometimes.”
While the Sounders survived a month without Evans, and have most of the season still ahead of them, his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for his World Cup hopes. Evans began establishing himself with the national team during World Cup qualifying last year, but still isn’t a sure thing to make the roster for this summer’s tournament in Brazil. When the U.S. fielded a mostly MLS-based team for a friendly against Mexico earlier this month, Evans was on the initial roster, but ended up staying home because of the injury.
The U.S. has remaining friendlies between now and the World Cup, and Klinsmann also will pay attention to Evans’ play with Seattle, but he knows the injury came at a bad time. A midfielder with Seattle, Evans has played mostly at right back with the national team. Right back is a wide open spot for the national team, and among those competing for the job with Evans is his Sounders teammate, DeAndre Yedlin.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “You hate to give your chance away to somebody else. That’s the reality of it. But the focus now is Sounders. I’ve got to be healthy, No. 1, to even give myself a shot. Healthy, playing consistently for the next month, month and a half, and whatever happens, happens.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.