While Sporting Kansas City has looked to the overseas market to improve its 2018 starting lineup, it stayed within the league to add a depth piece.
Sporting KC has agreed to contract terms with MLS veteran Brad Evans, a league source told The Star on Tuesday. The deal must still be approved by the league office.
Evans, 32, was drafted by Columbus in 2007, but he spent the previous nine seasons with Seattle, rotating between spots along the back line and the midfield.
A back injury concluded his 2017 season last August. He joined Sporting KC’s training camp during its stop in Kansas City last week and then traveled with the team for the second leg of preseason camp in Tucson, Ariz.
“We’re going to see if he can get back to full strength. If he can, I think he can be really useful for our club,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said last week.
“One thing I know about him (is that) he’s an incredible competitor, and he’s a great team guy, which it doesn’t hurt to add those things.”
Evans was a free agent, falling under the parameters of players who are 28 or older and have at least eight years of MLS service. Fewer than half of the league’s 38 players eligible for free agency have found a home for 2018.
But add Evans to that list. He started at least 21 matches in five consecutive seasons before the back injury arrived in 2017, limiting him to just six starts and 480 minutes.
In a brief stint over the past few days, he did enough to prove to Vermes that he has something left to provide. For Sporting KC, that equates to versatility and depth. Evans primarily plays right back — where Graham Zusi starts — but has proven capable of filling in at center back or in the midfield.
Before the acquisition, the backups for Zusi included 17-year-old Jaylin Lindsey and second-year player Colton Storm, a first-round draft pick in 2017. Neither Lindsey nor Storm have played in an MLS competition.
Evans is far from a stranger to it. His career totals stand at 230 appearances in the league, including 198 starts, and 25 goals and 29 assists. He has also made 27 appearances with the United States men’s national team. He previously represented the U.S. Under-20 team at the FIFA World Youth Championship, when Vermes was an assistant coach.
Evans was drafted by the Columbus Crew in 2007 — more than three years before the Kansas City Wizards re-branded to Sporting KC.
Evans is known for his candor and outspokenness. While in Seattle, he served as the Sounders’ players’ union representative during the collective bargaining agreement negotiations in 2015.