Fans of the Seattle Sounders or those who follow the U.S. National soccer team probably wouldn’t believe it, but there was a time when Brad Evans wasn’t so sure of himself on the pitch.
Early in his career at Mountain Pointe, Evans missed a penalty kick in an eventual Pride loss. He vowed to never take one again.
Then-Mountain Pointe coach Ken Parsons could readily see Evans’ potential and nipped that wavering confidence in the bud when another match went into overtime and the Pride needed five players for the PKs.
When Parson asked for volunteers Evans buried his head and didn’t raise his hand. It wasn’t long after that when Evans buried the ball in the back of the net.
“When I asked him where (among the five) he wanted to kick, he said he didn’t raise his hand,” said Parsons, who is the head coach at Metro State in Denver. “I told him to get out there anyway and now it is one of things he is known for at the highest level of the game.”
Evans, 27, was in Honduras this week as a member of the U.S. National team as it started the final round of World Cup qualifying with 10 matches of CONCACAF region, which also includes Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Panama action ahead of them through October.
Evans, a 2003 Pride graduate, has reached new territory in his career as the Americans compete in a six-team, double round-robin that rewards the top three finishers with trips to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.
“To be called into your national team in any sport is truly an honor,” current Mountain Pointe boys coach Bryan Sabato said. “Putting on your country’s national shirt and hearing the National Anthem playing is something you hear players dream about and talk about all the time.
“The excitement and passion is something that cannot be copied. A national team called up is something every professional soccer player dreams of and works towards. Brad is one of those few that are fortunate to have that honor.”
Evans, who was unreachable after leaving the country on Monday, has humbled beginnings in the sport before reaching the ultimate level.
His mother, Dawn Gripando, said they started him out with T-ball and he didn’t take to it. They let him choose after that, and his soccer career began.
“He was good but he was never really the best player on the team,” she recalled. “He was very good but there was always someone better. He just kept working and has been at the right place at the right time. He’s been very fortunate to have a variety of coaches.”
The different coaching styles led to a versatile game, along with a willingness and ability to play several different positions, and probably why the U.S. National coaching staff selected him. Since he can play anything from outside midfielder, forward, center midfielder and defender well, Evans is more valuable than someone near the end of the 23-man roster who is regulated to one position.
“Brad’s dedication and his selfless approach to the game itself, I believe, is one of the things that put him on the radar for the national team,” Sabato said. “He can and has played virtually anywhere on the field and that versatility has helped him along the way.”
Evans’ inclusion on the National team is a continuation of former Mountain Pointe athletes seeing success on USA teams: Will Claye was a double-gold medalist and Reid Priddy was captain of the U.S. men’s volleyball team in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
“It’s exciting not only for the Mountain Pointe and Ahwatukee community, but for all of Arizona,” Sabato said. “What it shows is that if a player has a belief and they are truly committed to working toward their goals and dreams, then anything is possible.
“Hopefully, what it shows our Mountain Pointe athletes is that when you put the good of the team ahead of personal goals great things can happen.”
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