Brad Evans is used to change. As far back as 2010, he's made a name for himself as much for his ability to move around the pitch as how well he may perform at any given position. It's a storyline that has been repeated virtually every year, as he's gone from midfield to forward to midfield to defense to midfield to defense.
While Evans has often said he'd rather be playing, he's also openly voiced frustrations that he's never really had a chance to settle into one position. The idea that his versatility is both blessing and curse has been openly acknowledged.
But this year was supposed to be different. Yes, he was trying another new position -- center back -- but he was moving there with the idea that it would be permanent, or at least it had the potential to be. And aside from a few notable hiccups, Evans has excelled there. His positional awareness has been strong, he's one of the best passing center backs in the league and he was developing a strong partnership with Chad Marshall.
Sometime in the past couple weeks, the Sounders decided to make some dramatic changes to the roster. Among those changes was the decision to add hulking center back Román Torres. Through no fault of his own, though, Evans is moving again.
When asked how the conversation went between him and Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, Evans could barely hide his frustration.
"That I'll be playing a different position," Evans told the media through gritted teeth. "That was it. Playing a different position, again. And close out the year playing a different position. That's it. Pretty easy."
And here's what he said when he was asked if he felt like he was being asked to effectively take one for the team: "Yeah. I felt like I had a good first two-thirds of the year, and I built into that position and felt like save for a few mistakes I thought that I was playing well. So, the situation is what it is right now, and I'll go most likely into midfield and close out the year there."
Evans' frustrations are at least understandable, even if his public venting is suboptimal. The decision to move to center back was not something he pushed, but he was willing to go along with it for the sake of the team. He also appreciated being able to focus on becoming the best center back he could be and not wondering what position he'd be playing a few days before the game.
Back in preseason, Schmid had even talked about how the move could extend the 30-year-old's career.
"Later in your career you'd like to settle into one position," Evans said. "But the reality is the team needs what it needs right now. I'll move in there and play it as I should and go from there."
For now, that's being a midfielder.
Although Evans said he felt a bit out of sorts during his first start of the year in the midfield on Sunday, he actually played pretty well as Osvaldo Alonso's replacement. He mostly hung back and let Erik Friberg take care of the more attacking duties, but Evans was strong in possession and wasn't afraid to get forward when the opportunity presented itself.
As long as Alonso is out, Evans will probably be playing there. Once Alonso is back? Who knows.
"We'll see what all that brings for us at the end of the day," was all Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid would say about Evans' future role. "We've got to try to get our best team on the field, and that's something that we've got to see how all that fits together at the end. Is that Brad at midfield for us, is that Brad back at center back, is it Brad maybe at outside back for this year? There might be a little bit of variety there, and then we'll try to find a position next year again."
Schmid is well aware this is probably not what Evans wants to hear. But he's also confident that their history together -- Evans has played for Schmid his entire professional career -- will help smooth any hurt feelings.
"Brad's a good captain," Schmid said. "I think he'll help out the team. He'll understand. He and I have spoken. Do I think he's over the moon over it? No, I'm not that silly. But I know he's a good captain. He knows I have his back, he has mine, and I know he'll do what the team needs to help us get to the playoffs and win an MLS Cup."