MICHAEL HADLEY - Wednesday, October 10, 2012
With injuries to multiple Americans before World Cup qualification dates, Jurgen Klinsmann will undoubtedly be looking for replacements to fill voids.
The issues began when Landon Donovan (knee) and Brek Shea (abdominal strain) were both announced to be unfit for the upcoming matches against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala. Shea was likely to see time at left midfield, at least according to the players selected and where he would best fit in. Donovan would have seen time at forward or central midfield, depending how Klinsmann decided to situate his attackers.
Most recently, outside back Fabian Johnson (flu) and left back Edgar Castillo (foot) were nixed at least for the game on Friday.
So where does that leave the USA? Issues with the American's wing play, particularly on the left has been lacking for as long as this writer can remember.
Going down the list of options there isn't much in the way of left-side midfielders: Kyle Beckerman is a defensive or holding midfielder; Michael Bradley is a central midfielder; Joe Corona plays in the middle or on the right; Jermaine Jones is similar to Beckerman, playing defensively for the most part; Sacha Kljestan can play on the left, but it isn't his strongest position; Graham Zusi is a central midfielder.
Enter: Brad Evans. According to Joshua Mayers and other sources in Seattle, including head coach of the Sounders Sigi Schmid, Evans is on the 'alternate list' for Klinsmann. And quite frankly, Jurgen would be better off calling him in than not.
In case the name doesn't ring a bell, the 27-year old from Arizona has a plethora of success to his name already, including an MLS Cup in 2008 with Columbus and three US Open Cups with Seattle from 2009-2011. He has played for the national team on six occasions previously - a handful of appearances duirng the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, with the most recent being during a 2010 friendly against El Salvador.
So why Evans?
Typically a center midfielder for Seattle, Evans has recently been asked to play in new positions over the last year thanks to the arrival of two foreign, highly paid midfielders in the Sounders' lineup. Evans has seen time at left midfield and across the defensive line both as a starter and filling in during injury absences in the throes of a match.
In the Sounders;' most recent game against Portland, Evans was an impressive 41 of 51 passing, including sending a perfect 40-yard pass into recent call-up Eddie Johnson for the team's second goal of the game.
As for defense, for the US U-20 team at the U-20 World Cup in Holland, Evans played right back and even played for the senior team at the position. His time has been limited as a professional, but his time at defense has included games at right back in the US Open Cup and filling in at center-back on two separate 'injury occasions' for Seattle on Sunday against Portland.
The argument to be made isn't 'should Brad Evans be a regular starter for the Men's senior team' or even 'should he start against Antigua and Barbuda'. But with someone as versatile Evans on the waiting list, it would be a bad idea for Klinsmann to ignore his abilities. In all likelihood, at least four of the selected players will be out on Friday, and Evans could, in an emergency, fill in for all four, or in the worst possible case, he could even play all ten outfield positions.
With the USA currently lodged in a three-way tie for advancement in Group A, it's important Klinsmann and the men's senior squad do not let injury absences go without replacement. This is the time to get points, not thinker inviting players to camp.
Evans might not be the next Donovan, but he could surely be a key call up during this international break.