Even though it’s unlikely that Seattle Sounders fans will see Roman Torres in the match day squad against Orlando City on Sunday, the Panamanian center back is back in full training with the club and could make his return very soon. In the few appearances he had before his injury in 2015, Torres was quite impressive and if he’s able to return with the same quality, it’s hard to see Schmetzer leaving him out of the starting XI. But such a return would bring up a very pressing question—where does captain Brad Evans fit in?
Often seen as a bit of a utility player, Evans was forced to adapt to a semi-permanent center back role after Torres’ injury, and while he’s done rather well (mistakes like last weekend’s against LA aside), it’s unlikely that he would unseat healthy Chad Marshall and Roman Torres at the heart of defense.
Not that it’s a surprise, but Evans is approaching the impending situation like the professional that we all know him to be. “I think I’ve adapted to multiple positions fairly well, so at the end of the day when he’s ready to go I’d imagine he’ll step in at center back and ultimately I’ll have to fight for another position on the field.” Having been with the Sounders for so long, Evans knows his place in the team and knows that if he continues to train hard and give everything, he’ll find himself in the starting XI. He says that he knows that “it’s business, it’s soccer” and that “all I want to do is win games...wherever I fit into that equation, we’ll see when the time comes.”
Head coach Brian Schmetzer was a bit coy with the situation, but confirmed that, for now, “Brad is playing center back and if I decide to make changes, then I will let him know first.” He said that Roman Torres is “probably not” traveling to Orlando, despite returning to full training this week. But Schmetzer had no shortage of praise for Evans, possibly reinforcing the idea that he’ll be trying very hard to find a place in the starting XI for Evans. “I think his worth to this franchise over the years has been tremendous.” Even though Evans has played all over the place in his career, from right-back to center back to central midfield, Schmetzer stressed that he doesn’t expect players (even versatile ones) to be proficient in more than two positions. “I’d like him to settle into one, as an option two, and then maybe if we’re desperate in a game and someone comes up lame and I have to shove him into a third, that’s extreme.”
So what’s next for Evans, if he is indeed forced out of the position he’s played for the last year or so? Lots of criticism has been leveled at Tyrone Mears in recent weeks, and right-back has been one of Evans’ best positions in the past. It’s possible that Evans slots in for Mears in matches where Schmetzer wants to be more defensive with at least one full-back, because Oniel Fisher deserves more time at the position when the team needs a more attacking-minded player. What about central midfield? If the team continues the modified 4-3-3 that Sigi implemented at the beginning of the year, he’d probably only be able to displace Cristian Roldan—and that’s not definite either. It’s anyone’s guess where Evans will end up, but I feel pretty certain that Schmetzer will find a way to get his captain on the pitch as much as possible.
After all, when with the media on Thursday after training, Schmetzer joked loud enough for the departing Evans to hear: “I think Brad Evans is a really, really, really good guy and a really good soccer player.”