The club teammates are becoming closer friends despite ostensibly competing for the same spot on the national team.
Brad Evans plays right back for the United States national team. His teammate for club and country, DeAndre Yedlin, plays right back for the Seattle Sounders. But even though Yedlin was involved in Jurgen Klinsmann’s January camp, there’s no need for fans of either side to worry about a rift.
“Brad’s a great guy,” Yedlin said after a preseason match last week. “There’s no other person I’d rather compete with for right back. He mentors me and he also wants the spot, you know what I mean, obviously. It makes for great competition, and it’s very fun to compete against him.”
Evans’ versatility saw him slotted in at right back this summer, when he helped the U.S. beat Germany 4-3 in a friendly and then held onto the role against Jamaica and throughout the rest of World Cup qualifying. In Seattle, though, he plays in midfield with Yedlin, a 20-year-old Homegrown Player, manning the right side of the Sounders’ defense.
The transition can be tough for Evans, but he said getting games in preseason will help him get comfortable in midfield again after spending most of January as a fullback.
“It’s difficult. The transition is always difficult. Felt the same way last year,” Evans said. “You go the whole camp playing pretty much one position and then jumping straight in to an attacking role and just starting all over again. it’s no excuse, but at the same time it is difficult.”
Sounders boss Sigi Schmid said both players were “a little disjointed” after being in national team camp while the rest of his team was getting to know each other and learning how the new additions played. The change could be particularly jarring for Evans, the coach said, because of the positional switch.
This offseason, the Sounders have added players who should contribute, like Marco Pappa, Chad Marshall, Tristan Bowen and Kenny Cooper. Evans had never played with some of those players before the Feb. 8 friendly against Portland and still hasn’t played with Guatemalan international Pappa.
“The more you play with certain players you know their tendencies,” Evans said. “I know what Ozzie’s going to do pretty much every time he gets the ball because I’ve been with him for five years now. Tristan, I’ve never played with him. I’ve played against him a couple times, but when you’re playing against somebody it’s completely different than playing with them.”
While there is transition coming back from national team camp, there’s little rivalry. In fact, something of a friendship is blossoming between Evans and Yedlin after spending a month in national team camp together.
“My bond last year wasn’t that strong, but being forced into the national team camp playing the same position, kind of being a pivot off each other because it was his first camp I think we got closer for sure. That’ll benefit us going forward,” Evans said.
Yedlin hopes to continue improving at right back and eventually secure that spot that Evans currently holds, however loosely. The younger fullback impressed enough to stay on and make an appearance in the United States 2-0 friendly win against Korea on Feb. 1 after Klinsmann sent home a handful of others home.
“Obviously 20-years-old and he has the physical attributes to do it and now it becomes a mental game,” Evans said of his teammate. “I’m probably the opposite, it’s more of a mental game for me than the physical side of it. Once he gets the mental side of the game and he already has the physical attributes, it’s going to come easy for him. I have no doubt that he’ll be there in the future for sure.”
For now, Evans will continue to make a transition as he tried to win the job at the World Cup in Brazil.