National Team calls reduce club roster, but improve quality

USA TODAY Sports

Brad Evans performed well as a right back, but even if he hadn't his experience would help Seattle Sounders FC.

National Team players get called away from their MLS teams at times that hurt their clubs. This is just the nature of the call in leagues that play through international dates. Sometimes those players called up do not play, and then the club and its fans are left wondering "was it worth it?"

The fact of the matter is it was.

Take the case of Brad Evans. He might have only gotten the cameo in the Belgium game if Jurgen Klinsmann made other decisions. He probably would have stayed with the travel roster just to help during practices. But he proved himself capable of more during practices and earned a start at right back. That's a win for the club.

It was also a win because Brad Evans just spend a week, and will spend another week plus, with some of the best players America has ever produced.

"I think before the game I had a good talk with Michael Bradley, who was one who came up and said, ‘The first couple passes, just get into the rhythm of the game. Connect your first few passes and then take your chances in getting forward.' I think I took that to heart," Evans explained during a conference call with Seattle media shortly after landing in Jamaica. "Obviously Tim Howard in the back, his communication is something that I've never really experienced before. It's constant throughout 90 minutes. It's pretty incredible. Obviously rooming with Omar (Gonzalez) and staying with him, hopefully there's a relationship on that front, and not just on the soccer side. On the personal side of things it might make things a little bit easier."

Let's take that bit by bit.

Michael Bradley is probably the best box-to-box central mid to ever wear the United States jersey. He's at Roma and did well there as a kind of Evans. He was mainly at central mid, but also popped up at wide positions at times. AS Roma placed sixth in the league and second in the Copa. They will be the MLS All Star opponent this year. Bradley, like Evans, is a thinking man's player.

And he's the first one listed when Evans talked about who he talked to about getting ready for his start. Bradley's statement was simple, but it was one that was very Brad Evans. It is one that Brad would make to his teammates, but in this case it was coming from a man with dozens of international appearances and about 150 appearances in the Bundesliga, EPL and Serie A. Those statements carry greater weight.

Brad Evans did not play as a defender in front of Kasey Keller, but they were on the same team for years. We all know Keller's accomplishments. Tim Howard is on that same godly plane. Evans was led by a new keeping diety against Germany and Brad learned.

"His communication is something that I've never really experienced before"

Just review that again. A man that worked with Kasey Keller for three years experienced a new kind of keeper. He learned from every command.

Omar Gonzalez is a better MLS player than Evans. But like Brad he's new to the US National Team. Together they are learning their place. Together they are learning how to become better. Omar's won more trophies of significance than Evans, but not more in all. He's a bit younger, but not much. When their journey in Red, White and Blue ends they will again be opponents, but both will take something away from their travels together.

Brad Evans just sucked up knowledge from the best central midfielder from America, one of the best defenders from America and one of the best keepers from America. He's not done learning.

"... like I said before, we'll look over more video and see what we can do better," Evans said he was not satisfied with his performance. He's going over it with Jurgen Klinsmann and the rest of the US staff. That is huge as well.

Whether Brad Evans starts a single World Cup Qualifier does not matter. He's learned something from his time with his National Team. He is going to learn more. In scrimmages he goes against Fabian Johnson, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Brad Davis. That challenge is much larger than his practices with the Sounders going against his teammates.

Losing Brad Evans, Mario Martinez, Eddie Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin and others at various points for National Team duties is rough, but they will be exposed to coaches and players with skills and knowledge beyond what the experience in their day-to-day MLS lives. It may make a game or two difficult to win, but long term it is better for them and their current teams.

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