Seattle Sounders FC captain Brad Evans was back in full training for the first time Tuesday, looking to be in good spirits and ready to get back on the pitch for the club. "Last week was a good week, today was another good day." Neither Evans nor head coach Sigi Schmid could guarantee the captain will be back in the squad on Saturday, but all indications make it seem rather likely. Evans had a dislocated shoulder after a clash with Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer in the first match of the MLS season.
Regarding his injury, Evans said "I don't recommend it. It's kind of a strange feeling, no bones break or anything. But you feel a little pop and your shoulder sits in front of your chest, and the first time you lean back a little bit, it just sucks right back in the socket. Like a clunk." At first, it didn't seem like Evans' injury would be serious, as he walked off the pitch under his own power and was seen doing some light training a week later. But despite the injury's relatively minor nature, Evans needed quite a bit of time to get his body back to normal. "The aftermath is the worst part, just trying to sleep the next four of five days was tough. So hopefully it doesn't happen again, if it does it'll be a big time problem."
The Sounders captain has been working hard to get to a place where he can play, but he recognizes that such an issue can't be rushed. "I've tried to rehab it as much as I can, get it strong." Evans said, sarcastically, that he's going to have to "wear this awesome, really comfortable brace to help things out a little bit." He'll have to wear the shoulder brace for an indefinite length of time, at least a month or two. Evans noted that Columbus Crew captain Michael Parkhurst "has been wearing the exact same shoulder brace every single game and training session for as long as I've known him, nearly 10 years." If the shoulder brace becomes "a comfort thing" even after the injury has fully healed, Evans admits he could wear it long afterwards if it improves his confidence on the pitch.
Evans said the hardest part about the injury was that "I felt fine, my legs felt great on the sideline doing fitness stuff. But I just wasn't able to play very much." But he says he's feeling good now, and will hopefully continue to make progress leading up to Saturday's home match against Montreal Impact.
Having earned 26 caps for his country since 2009, Evans is still very much a part of the USMNT picture. He was unable to be called up for this week's World Cup qualifiers due to the injury, but he'll be watching raptly with the rest of the fans for tonight's crucial match against Guatemala. He missed last week's match as he was on a flight to Southern California for his weekend off.
When asked if there was something to worry about regarding the national team, Evans mentioned the last World Cup qualifying cycle and what the team had to do to get through it. "There were a couple big performances from Eddie Johnson in the last cycle that pushed the US into a good position in the hex. CONCACAF is tough, it's a very hard region." Playing away games is totally different, Evans says. "It's not the same as Germany going into Holland and staying in really nice hotels and getting really nice pitches and having your traveling fans fill up half the stadium, so it's a little bit tougher I think, from my experiences. It's almost easier (for the USMNT) going to Europe than it is to go south of the border. In saying that, tonight is obviously a massive one. I know the guys will be up for it."
Perhaps playing the surprising-hero role that Johnson filled last cycle, Evans said he expects a big performance from Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi, if he plays tonight. "Graham Zusi popped into my head last night, so I'm hoping he gets on the pitch and does his thing and gets back in the team. I think he's a high quality player that can make special things happen on the field."
If the US were to miss the 2018 World Cup, Evans said it'll be a "tremendous failure." But he's not making any quick judgments just yet, saying that he doesn't want to discuss that possibility until after tonight's match against Guatemala.