"Whenever he’s ready to go, I imagine he’ll step at center back and I’ll ultimately have to find a new position on the field," Evans said Thursday.
Injured Sounders defender Roman Torres is unlikely to travel to Florida for this Sunday’s match against Orlando City. But he has officially entered the final stage of his rehabilitation from an ACL tear suffered last fall, having returned to full training on Monday, and he is on track to return to game action at some point this month.
Incumbent center back Brad Evans is under no illusions as to what that might mean for his first-choice status.
“I’m a guy who can play multiple positions and he’s a guy who can play one position,” Evans said Thursday. “I think I understand the situation at hand. Nothing will ever change my mindset heading into a training session or a game. I think I’ve adapted to multiple positions fairly well. Whenever he’s ready to go, I imagine he’ll step at center back and I’ll ultimately have to find a new position on the field.”
Evans, 31, was moved full-time into central defense prior to last season but was demoted after the club signed Torres during last year’s summer transfer window — only for Torres’ knee injury four matches into his Seattle career to force a near-immediate backtrack.
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“Right now, Brad is playing center back,” interim Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said Thursday. “And if I decide to make changes, then I will let him know first.
“I think his worth to this franchise over the years has been tremendous. … Do I think he should be playing four different positions? No. I’d him to settle into one.
“I don’t want to overdo it. I can’t overdo it. It’s not fair.”
– Thursday morning’s practice session provided yet another hint at how the Sounders might function differently under Schmetzer than they did with longtime coach Sigi Schmid in charge — as well as what Schmetzer means when he says he wants the players to take control of the team.
“I let them do most of their own stuff today,” Schmetzer said. “Playing a little 11-v-11, here’s your teams, we’re going to start in a minute, talk amongst yourselves. What are your tactics? After the games, we’d come in, talking about how they did, what they did, why they did it.
“Obviously, I’ve seen the players over the course of the last seven years. I’ve got a good feel of where the guys are. But what I want to do is promote a little bit of total team tactics. The entire team knows when to press, when not to press, when we’re going to keep possession, when we’re going to play direct. So that if I bring a sub on, that guy knows the entire team tactics. It’s a different way of coaching.
“Just making sure they understand what my expectations are on top of me getting to see a couple of different combinations and getting the new guys intermixed with the squad.”
– And from the players’ perspective, the regime change has underlined that no position is safe, especially Seattle still nine points out of the playoff spots with 13 matches remaining in this season.
“Sigi had his favorite players – not his favorite players, but guys he thought could get the job done,” Evans said. “Now, you bring in a new coach who maybe has a different philosophy. I’ve got to put my head down and work, because at any given time, I could be on the outside looking in. I have never faced that situation before. … This change is keeping guys on their toes.”