Seattle Sounders FC has provided a couple of key players for the U.S. mens national soccer teams drive toward the 2014 World Cup, and now its about to provide its home stadium.
The U.S. faces Panama in a World Cup qualifier at 7 p.m. Tuesday at CenturyLink Field. Among the players wearing the USA crest will be Sounders forward Eddie Johnson and midfielder/defender Brad Evans.
In the previous qualifying round, Johnson had two goals and an assist against Antigua and Barbuda, and Guatemala. On Friday, Evans stoppage-time goal delivered a 2-1 win at Jamaica.
I thought it was great that he scored, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. Its a great way to top off your first USA qualifying match that you play in. Its good to know that the U.S. road to Brazil has a few Sounder goals littered along the way.
The U.S. team flew back home Saturday, arriving in Seattle in time for Evans and Johnson to watch their Sounders teammates rally for a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
In the CenturyLink press box at halftime, Evans reflected on his progression from standby status on the U.S. roster to his present role as starting right back.
Ive been telling myself that each game brings a new opportunity, and its up to me to stake my claim, he said. Ive done a decent job the last two games, and obviously I can do better on a number of occasions. But that will come in time playing the position, learning the position. Even now, Im watching (Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin) play the position.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has noted that eagerness to improve.
I think hes growing into his role, Klinsmann said. He understands that its there for him to grab. Hes finding his game, finding an understanding with the center backs, and finding an understanding with the midfielder in front of him in this case, Graham Zusi. This is not happening overnight, but we need to give him time to play that role. The moment was there for him (Friday), and we need to give him a compliment for that.
As big a thrill as the winning goal was for Evans, he says the MLS Cup he won with Columbus still might rank higher.
He looks forward to adding another memory to his collection Tuesday when he dons the red, white and blue in the stadium where he usually wears rave green.
Not many players get to experience something like this, Evans said. It will always be something I remember. My first cap was here with the Gold Cup, and I will always remember that one and this one playing in the World Cup qualifier as well. You try not to get too anxious a couple days before. You think about it at night for a couple days maybe, then get your own mind and try to relax and take it easy for a couple days. Come game time, it will be time to play.
After the Panama match, the USA continues World Cup qualifying June 18 in Sandy, Utah. Thats where the Sounders will return to MLS play June 22 against Real Salt Lake.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808