Sounders’ Brad Evans out five to seven weeks with calf muscle strain
Sounders defender Brad Evans has been shut down for five-to-seven weeks as he tries to recuperate from what’s being called a calf muscle strain.
The team made the decision shortly before returning from Charleston, S.C., on Sunday, where they had played three exhibition games and scrimmaged against a local college in preparation for Saturday’s season opener in Houston. Evans, 31, began experiencing leg problems shortly upon rejoining the squad from a January training stint with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said the team is sitting Evans now in hopes of having him fully healthy this summer.
“We’re going to shut him down to make sure he’s 100 percent and see if we can’t get him for the rest of the season,’’ Schmetzer said.
The Sounders had several players hurt down the stretch last season and as the playoffs unfolded. They still managed to win the franchise’s first MLS Cup championship in surprising fashion, but that made for an unusually short offseason in which the team fears some players did not get adequate rest.
Evans could have tried to make a quicker return, but the team’s coaching staff and upper management is concerned that if he plays now, he may never get his leg rested enough to be fully healthy. The team is concerned about a number of players burning out physically this summer if pushed too hard early on.
They’ve taken things slowly with some veterans — Evans, Osvaldo Alonso and Stefan Frei chief among them — working their way back from injuries, with the attitude that missing the first couple of games isn’t the end of the world.
Their decision to shelve Evans for at least the season’s opening month was finalized after veteran Swedish midfielder Gustav Svensson played the full 90 minutes Saturday in Evans’ right back position during a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew. Svensson is known to be a supremely fit player, but more of a stopgap defender and the Sounders wanted to ensure he could handle the right back position well for an entire game.
Oniel Fisher is another player that could help spell the position in Evans’ absence but he’s under concussion protocol. Fisher passed his latest testing Monday and could be cleared for training later this week.
There’s still an outside chance Fisher could play Saturday, but the team has been reluctant to rush players back too quickly when they’ve sat out for some time.