Evans balancing focus as U.S. National squad comes to Ariz. - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Evans balancing focus as U.S. National squad comes to Ariz.

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Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014 10:45 am | Updated: 7:09 am, Fri Jun 27, 2014.

Now that he’s back with the Seattle Sounders, Brad Evans knows it will be tough to keep his mind off the opportunity that may lie ahead this summer with the U.S. team at the World Cup.

A potential chance like that is hard to completely ignore, especially when it’ll remain a lingering question into May and June.

“It is a big deal and I try and dumb it down, but it is a big deal,” the 2003 Mountain Pointe graduate said following a training with the Sounders. “I don’t want to focus on that right now. My focus right now is on (the Sounders) and building the relationships with these guys and establishing a style of play and getting guys healthy and getting guys 100 percent here. And that’s where my focus will remain until you switch places. I think I’ve done a good job of that.”

Evans, who scored 54 goals in Mountain Pointe career, and Seattle teammate DeAndre Yedlin rejoined the Sounders in February and were back in Seattle for their first full training session with the club in advance of the MSL season, which began March 8.

And while their focus remains with the Sounders, there will remain the lingering thought of their World Cup chances.

Especially on Wednesday when the U.S. National team plays Mexico in a friendly at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Although Evans will miss the game because of hamstring injury he would seem to be a lock, as long as he gets healthy, to at least be included in the U.S. camp prior to leaving for Brazil after making five starts on the right side of the defensive backline during World Cup qualifying last year. Evans also started at that position during an exhibition against South Korea on Feb. 1.

Yedlin, 20, would seem to be more of a long shot to be included in the World Cup camp, but could be a long-range option at the same position as Evans. That’s why Yedlin’s experience in the January training camp in Brazil was so important. His reward was getting a first international appearance when he came on for Evans against South Korea.

“It was pretty amazing. It was something I have always dreamed of, playing with the national team. To finally get that experience and now it’s just pushing for more caps and hopefully a World Cup,” he said.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann took his players to Brazil for 12 days in January as part of “dry run” preparations for what they will face this summer. Evans, who was All-American at UC Irivine before being drafted by the Columbus Crew 15th overall in 2007, felt the decision to hold camp in San Paulo was smart, giving players a basic understanding of the surroundings they will be exposed to during the World Cup, which begins June 16 when the U.S. plays Ghana in Brazil.

“It’s always nice to be familiar with a place, especially one that is so far away and is on such a big stage,” Evans said. “You get familiar with the surroundings and what to expect — weather, food, whatever it is, little things, the facilities — so when you go you’re not star struck.”

Evans and Yedlin said they don’t have a feel for their chances to be included on the final 23-man roster. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said he has talked with Klinsmann about the pair and Seattle’s Clint Dempsey — currently on loan to English club Fulham — but would leave it up to the American coach to speak on their chances.

The matchup against Mexico is another chance for Evans to show Klinsmann that he belongs.

“I won’t be confident or sure until the name is on the list,” Evans said. “That’s how I’m going to approach it and you just hope the next call comes your way.”

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
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  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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