On Tuesday, midfielder Brad Evans appeared in a Sounders jersey for the first time in a month.
He also wore an accessory he had never worn in his five professional seasons: the captain’s armband.
“(That) was something special,” Evans said. “I’ve never gotten to do that with an MLS team, even in a reserve game. For me, anytime you put the band on you want to play well, you want to show well.”
Veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller usually serves as Sounders captain. However, when coach Sigi Schmid decided to start Terry Boss in goal for the CONCACAF Champions League match against Comunicaciones, he also decided to assign the captaincy to Evans.
“He’s a guy who’s been around here from day one,” Schmid said. “He’s an experienced player. He’s a guy who, within the body of the game, does talk and lead and organize us. And he’s playing his best when he’s doing that part. So giving him the captain’s armband, for me, was not a tough decision. It was just to give him that little bit of added responsibility, and I think it helped his game.”
Evans contributed a goal and assist in Seattle’s 4-1 win over the Guatemalan club.
Afterward Evans said he was generally pleased with his first game back after recovering from a hamstring injury that had kept him out since July 16. He also said he was honored that his longtime coach entrusted him with the armband.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Evans said. “And no matter what, you wear it with pride.”
Evans was born in Phoenix, played at UC Irvine, and was selected by Columbus (where Schmid was then coaching) in the second round of the 2007 SuperDraft. He was taken by Seattle in the 2009 expansion draft and started 27 games that season.
However, over the past couple of seasons, staying healthy has been frustratingly difficult for Evans, who has a reputation as one of the fittest and most physically fanatical of the Sounders.
Last season he made 12 appearances, including 11 starts, missing the second half of the season with a knee injury.
He started this season on fire, taking the team lead with four goals in his first seven matches.
But after starting the first nine games, a series of injuries limited him to three starts and five appearances over the past 16 league games.
“I think (Tuesday) was the first time I’ve played 90 minutes in two months or so,” Evans said. “For me, I just want to be healthy. … I think I had a decent game, (we) came out with a victory and that’s the most important thing.”
The Sounders held an early morning practice at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila on Thursday before taking a flight to Texas, where they will meet FC Dallas in an MLS match on Saturday. Most of the traveling party will then continue to Monterrey, Mexico, to resume CCL group play Tuesday. “After Dallas, there might be some guys who come back, some guys who come from here and join us as we go into Monterrey,” Schmid said. “Obviously (defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado) is coming back from injury, so is Evans. How many minutes do we want to pile on them this early? We don’t want to have (a recurrence) of the injury. Patrick Ianni (hamstring) definitely won’t be ready for Saturday, but could be ready for Tuesday.” … On Wednesday, Dallas became the first MLS team to win a CONCACAF Champions League game in Mexico, defeating Pumas, 1-0. “(Mexican teams) have probably 10 times the budget we have, so that kind of speaks for itself,” Keller said. “… So when you go down and you’re matching up what we’ve done in our history compared to what some of the Mexican teams have done, you see why it’s a difficult task. But that tide is changing. The national team still hasn’t won in Mexico. It’s a tough task, so congratulations to Dallas to be the first.”
Sounders FC at FC Dallas, 6 p.m., Ch. 6/16, 97.3-FM