A day after becoming American soccer’s newest hero, midfielder Brad Evans managed to get from Kingston, Jamaica, to the Clink Saturday night in time to see his Sounders team triumph over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“I’m out here to support the guys — I don’t know how much longer,” said a weary Evans in an impromptu interview in the pressbox at halftime of the Cascadia Cup match. “Ten-plus hours of travel to see the guys down 2-1 . . .”
But the Sounders rallied late to prevail 3-2 over the Whitecaps, much as Evans helped the U.S. Men’s National Team rally in stoppage time to beat Jamaica 2-1 Friday in a World Cup qualifier. Evans scored in the 92nd minute — his first goal in international play — after Jamaica scored in the 89th minute to tie at 1 and make a draw seem a likely, and disappointing, outcome for the Americans.
Evans was back home because he and his USMNT mates play Panama Tuesday at the Clink, the second of three matches in 12 days to help determine entries in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Moved to right back from his usual spot in the midfield, Evans, 28, showed in belonged on the team and in the new position. Even if he didn’t know what time it was. The stadium in Kingston had no clock, so Evans didn’t even know his goal came in stoppage time.
“Every time I asked the refs (what time remained) they ran past me,” he said. “I had zero inclination as to what time it was.”
Now, it appears it’s Evans’ time. Having never scored more than five goals in his seven MLS seasons, and a relatively late add to the USMNT roster, Evans is suddenly a force.
“It’s been a big week,” he said. “Each game is a new opportunity to stake my claim. I thought I did a decent job, but I’ll get better with time. Tonight I was watching DeAndre (Yedlin, Sounders right back) play the position if I found myself in the same situations. I’m still learning.”
One thing he learned is how high the level of play was at the international level.
“It’s a different level — it really is,” he said. “You think as youwatch from the outside, it may be easy. But until you get into the belly of the beast,you don’t know how difficult it is. We’ve experienced it with Champions League a little (in CONCACAF tournament). Playing with those guys with such a wealth of talent is really special. But with MLS, we’re not far off.”
Since most of the American players are on European teams, the game Tuesday will be a first for many in Seattle. Evans surprised them with his tales of the Sounders’ support.
“They missed the numbers, but they will find it on Tuesday night,” he said. “There’s a number of guys that are catching it. Some guys had no idea, like Joe (Corona) and Terrence (Boyd), playing in other countries, asking how many numbers you guys get to those games and saying, ‘Oh crap, that’s pretty incredible.’
“So they understand. It’s pretty cool to be able to showcase our fans.”