Brad Evans has made no secret about his desire to finally find a permanent position. He's said this basically every year at one point or another. First it was that he wanted to establish himself as a two-way center mid, then he expressed some desire to settle in as an outside mid before finally seeing a future with the United States national team as a right back.
This year, of course, came the biggest adjustment when he was tasked with learning to play center back. The experiment had its ups and downs, but Evans eventually established himself as a solid defender with an impressive ability to kick start the offense.
Predictably, the last minutes of his season were spent filling in at left back. But the successful experiment has got him thinking about finding a new position he can call his own.
"I think at this point center back is where I want to play," Evans told Sounder at Heart last week. "Aside from 2-3 games, I thought I played well. From that standpoint, I'd like to stay there, give it another go."
As there always seems to be, there's a caveat to Evans' desire. As well as Evans played for the first two-thirds of the season, the Sounders still couldn't pass up the opportunity to sign Panamanian captain Román Torres. The hulking center back was a player the Sounders had apparently coveted for quite some time and when the opportunity to sign him presented itself, they felt they needed to act. Evans dutifully switched positions, filling in at various spots in the midfield
But about a month after the signing, Torres tore his ACL. Evans returned to center back.
Given that no one knows exactly when Torres will return or how long it will take him to regain his form, Evans is moving forward under the assumption center back is his position to lose.
"My focus is on giving them no reason to change me from that role," Evans said. "I had a really good time playing center back, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I would be the first person to say 'I'm not enjoying this, switch me out.'
"Through thick and thin, I enjoyed playing there, I enjoyed practicing there, I enjoyed viewing the game from behind. I enjoyed being a connector, making tackles and last-ditch efforts. I learned a lot about myself, about how I view the game. I learned a lot about the team, about what makes the team excel. Overall, I had a lot of fun."
The decision to sign Torres aside, the Sounders seemed mostly satisfied with Evans' performance.
The results suggest the Sounders were probably a little better with Evans at center back than they were without him there. In the 20 matches Evans started at center back, the Sounders scored about 1.35 goals per game, allowed 1.15 and averaged 1.6 points. In the 14 other matches, the Sounders allowed .93 goals, scored 1.21 and averaged 1.35 points.
Still, it appears the Sounders are operating under the assumption that Torres will eventually win back his spot.
"Brad is always going to be a very important player to our team," Schmid told Sounder at Heart, noting that Evans' position will likely be "in the back line." "I know Brad feels he's been moved all over, but if you look back he was played pretty consistently in midfield. If you look at it now, on the flank is probably his best position.
"I think we have three quality center backs, in Torres, Marshall and Brad. We don't want to spend money and bring in another center back and really make that a congested area. That's why I see Brad at center back in the beginning of the year. You never know. There could be an injury that changes things, the way we're playing may need something different, we may be better as a unit if we played this way. Maybe we don't resolve the revolving door at left back, unfortunately he showed us he can play there, I'm sure he's unhappy about that."
That may not be exactly what Evans wants to hear, but he's also proven himself willing to do whatever the club needs ... even playing left back.