It is difficult to picture Brad Evans watching a Sounders game from the team box.
Anywhere on the field, yeah, you could see it — slotting in at left back to tighten up the defense, distributing passes from the center of the midfield, pushing up top in the dying minutes when Seattle needs a goal.
But in street clothes, watching helplessly as teammates surrendered three goals in a half-hour span? Evans still sounded uncomfortable about it three days later.
“It’s easy for us to sit up top and pick out what was wrong — you should have played it here, you should have done this,” Evans said after practice Thursday.
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“At the end of the day, it’s different when you’re on the field.”
That’s where Evans is aiming to return Saturday night in San Jose after missing Seattle’s home friendly with Tottenham Hotspur and the 3-0 loss to the L.A. Galaxy on Monday.
Evans, who tweaked a ligament in his leg in the closing minutes of the Sounders’ home victory over Portland on July 13, participated in the team’s full practice session Thursday.
“I was doing fitness the whole time,” Evans said. “That wasn’t the problem. It was literally one motion — kicking the ball — that was the problem. That was probably the most frustrating part.”
It’s been that kind of campaign.
Evans picked up another seemingly innocuous knock on his leg during Seattle’s second game of the season against Toronto. He was out for more than a month. He was called into the pre-World Cup camp for the U.S. men’s national team but didn’t make the final roster.
Then, just as fellow national-team members Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin returned from Brazil to make the squad whole, Evans has been sidelined again.
“Brad always wants to play,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “He always wants to be in there. He always wants to be part of the team and part of the group.”
In the 12 MLS matches Evans has played in, Seattle picked up 2.08 points per contest. In the seven he has missed, it’s averaged 1.85.
Evans’ periods of absence have been felt most keenly at the back. With Evans in the lineup, the Sounders have allowed 1.33 goals per game. When he’s out, that figure jumps to 1.57, including the 4-4 free-for-all in Portland and 3-0 loss to L.A.
“He not only leads on the pitch, but he makes sure that everybody’s ready to play,” defender Zach Scott said, “which is something, for some reason or another, that we didn’t bring in the L.A. game.”
The defense played tentative and the midfield was overrun as the Galaxy carved out chance after chance in the decisive first half on Monday.
That’s something Seattle doesn’t want to picture again any time soon.