By Tim Booth AP Sports Writer
TUKWILA — Brad Evans is a rarity: a soccer player competing for his first trip to the World Cup at age 29.
“I think everybody’s career takes different paths with everything,” Evans said. “To say everybody is going to walk the same path isn’t fair. For me everything happened at the right time. Maybe it was a little bit later. I’m just riding that roller coaster at this point.”
When U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann releases his 30-man preliminary training camp roster on Monday, the Seattle Sounders should be well represented. Clint Dempsey, off to a torrid star in Major League Soccer this season, is a given. Evans seems a highly likely selection for training camp after evolving into a key role as a defender during World Cup qualifying.
And Seattle could see a third player added to the training camp roster after the strong national team debut of 20-year-old defender DeAndre Yedlin earlier this year.
“It’s something you never want to deny a player. So for them to be able to participate and take advantage of that opportunity and make the World Cup team is something that we as a club are proud of, that myself as a coach is proud of, and I think all the players on our team are supportive of that,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said.
There’s no doubt Dempsey eventually will find his way on the plane to Brazil, but there are plenty of questions about whether Evans, or Yedlin — if he makes the camp — will be part of the team taken to South America.
What Evans has in his favor is versatility. His primary role with the national team has been playing as a right back, but he has the skills and experience to play on the opposite side or in the midfield should injuries become a factor.
Evans developing into a capable defender on the international level is another sign of his maturity. At one time, Evans was adamant that he be a central midfielder. That was the position Evans believed he was the best at and the thought of playing anywhere else was secondary.
That attitude changed when Seattle acquired midfielder Christian Tiffert before the 2012 season. That signing made Evans realize he needed to be willing to change. Since then, he’s played just about everywhere for the Sounders and that ability to bounce between positions and understand what each spot fueled his quick rise up the ranks with the national team.
Yedlin wasn’t in discussions for the national team until he was included in Klinsmann’s January camp that included time in Brazil and a match against South Korea. That match was Yedlin’s first national team appearance and he followed up with an appearance as a reserve against Mexico in April.
Yedlin said his experience in the January camp showed he could play at the international level. One drawback may be his age.
“Honestly, I try not to think about my age too much being part of this group. Really right now to me it’s, ‘Am I at this level?”’ Yedlin said. “Age is just a number. For me it would be amazing and be a great experience to be in this camp, but at any age it would be a great experience. That’s kind of what I’ve been focusing on.”