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Evans plays final 2 matches of World Cup qualifying

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 5:45 am

Brad Evans is in the middle of his transition.

He turned in his lime green and black No. 3 jersey with the Seattle Sounders, where he plays midfielder for the Major League Soccer (MLS) club, for his No. 6 red, white and blue shirt for the U.S. Men’s National squad, for which he plays right back as it continues World Cup qualifying.

The Mountain Pointe product was named to the 20-man roster for the final two matches in the Hexagonal Round of World Cup qualifying.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is sending a message that he wants to finish on top of the group after already clinching a spot in the World Cup.

Evans is among eight MLS players, including Sounders teammate FC forward Eddie Johnson, called in by Klinsmann as the U.S. met Jamaica on Friday at Sporting Park in Kansas City and visited Panama on Tuesday.

“We want to win these games,” Klinsmann said before the final two matches. “We want to finish off the year on a high note, but we also want to make the game against Jamaica a special one. It’s our last home game of 2013, and we have had tremendous support from all the fans throughout the country wherever we have played. We want to recognize that and give the fans a real good game and three points. These games already count toward the World Cup in 2014 in terms of the internal competition and the mentality we are trying to build.”

Johnson has 59 caps and 19 career goals for the U.S., including five goals this year and four goals in the last six matches. He leads the team in appearances this year, playing in 15 of the 19 games for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT).

Evans has one goal in 14 appearances in his career, with seven of those matches coming this year. His lone goal came against Jamaica in Kingston on June 7.

The Sounders duo missed two of Seattle’s matches to be with the U.S. National squad.

“It’s tough to leave our team here. At the start of the season, you set goals as a team. We’re in a race for (the Supporters’ Shield) and it’s a tough time to leave,” Johnson told soundersfc.com. “If we’re going to leave, we’ve got to go get the job done for the national team.”

Evans has four goals and five assists in 22 matches for the Sounders in his fifth season in Seattle. In 110 matches for Sounders FC, he has 17 goals and 19 assists. A midfielder with club, he has played primarily as a right back for country.

He missed some time, about a month, with a strained calf, but returned on Sept. 30 and scored the lone Seattle goal in a 1-1 draw against the Columbus Crew.

“It always feels good coming off of a lengthy delay with injury and getting back out there in front of the home fans,” Evans told soundersfc.com. “Personally, I’ve got to do much better in that game to help my team out. I didn’t think I had a good game by any means.”

Johnson scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season on Saturday against the Colorado Rapids, also adding two assists in 20 matches this year. This is his second season with Seattle after he had 14 goals and three assists last season in his first year back in MLS after four seasons in Europe. He has had particular success in Seattle’s rivalry matches against Vancouver and Portland, with six goals in nine games in Cascadia Cup matches.

“I’m going to miss the Portland game. Those are the games we look forward to every year,” Johnson said. “I know when I leave, it’s got to be for a good cause. If you’re going to take it for granted, you’re not going to get anything out of it, you might as well not even go. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity again and I want to make the most of it.”

Evans and Johnson are expected to return to Seattle following the game in Panama on Oct. 15.

• Matt Gaschk of the soundersfc.com contributed to this story.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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