MP graduate Evans in U.S. national soccer training camp - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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MP graduate Evans in U.S. national soccer training camp

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Posted: Monday, January 23, 2012 12:00 pm

Brad Evans showed a sense of loyalty from the start.

When he was playing for Tempe Soccer Club it would have been easy to switch to premier clubs like Sereno or Cisco, but he never did.

After his freshman year at Mountain Pointe, his family moved into the Desert Vista boundaries and he could have switched schools, but he never did.

When the U.S. national soccer team needed some replacement players earlier this month, you better believe he was ready to step in.

"Anyone who plays the game at a high level always thinks about representing their country," Evans said this week by phone. "You never hesitate and you definitely get there as fast as you can. As long as you are healthy you'll do anything you can out of loyalty to your country."

Evans, a 26-year-old midfielder, was on the U.S. national team on Saturday when it played an exhibition against Venezuela at University of Phoenix Stadium

It wasn't certain that Evans would play in the match, but he knows all of the work he has put in since being called up on Jan. 4 will pay off at some point. The team has held training camp in Carson, Calif., and Scottsdale in preparation for the match against Venezuela and Wednesday's friendly at Panama.

The national team has a new coach in Jürgen Klinsmann, who replaced Bob Bradley, as it prepares for the World Cup qualifier in June.

Evans said there has been a shift in approach that should help the U.S. become successful in the months to come.

"We didn't touch a ball for three or four days," Evans said. "We have a good base of conditioning with some weights mixed in. We worked on our speed and technique for a good amount of time. With Bob it was different. We had two intense training sessions (a day) and I think they knew it led to injuries so they had 28 guys in camp.

"Now we have about 20 guys in camp, including three goalies, so 17 guys on the field and (the new approach) has benefited us. We are fresh and ready to go."

The roster for 2014 World Cup is far from being solidified so anytime Evans can put on the U.S. jersey and perform in front of the coaches who make such decisions it is vital he plays well in order to secure a spot.

"The more you play in that jersey the more at ease you become with it, but it is such a great honor every time," said Evans, who made his U.S. debut in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup as he earned three caps. "I'm still relatively new, but I am striving to play for my country as often and for long as possible."

When Evans, who was an All-American at UC Irvine, isn't playing for his country, he plays for the MSL's Seattle Sounders. He started his career on the Columbus Crew after being drafted 15th overall in the 2007 draft and helped the Crew to the MLS title in 2008.

His career with the Sounders started the following year and he has loved it ever since as Seattle goes wild for its soccer club. The Sounders have averaged about 36,000 fans per home game at CenturyLink Field the last couple of years and it is something he and his teammates cherish.

"It's a perfect storm," he said. "They lost their NBA team, the Mariners haven't been good and other than (the 2010) playoff run the Seahawks haven't been great. Seattle has a huge youth soccer program, there are four Division I soccer programs in the area and we've been pretty good. It's amazing and we are very lucky."

While it doesn't compare with representing your country or playing professionally, Evans received an honor in the fall when he was included in the first enshrinement class of the Mountain Pointe Hall of Fame.

The Sounders were in the playoffs at the time of the ceremony so he couldn't come back for the event as his parents stood in for him, but Evans hopes to return at some point and talk to the students and thank those who felt he deserved the recognition.

"I would love to get back there and take the time to say a few words," he said. "They've had some good soccer teams and the athletics as a whole is doing well right now, but when somebody from the outside can come back and offer words of advice based on experience it can mean more.

"I was truly honored to get my jacket (given to all inductees) and plaque. It was a once in a lifetime honor."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JskodaAFN.

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