Johnson, Evans exit for U.S. team duty

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comOctober 7, 2013 

After struggling through a third straight winless game Saturday, Seattle Sounders FC suffered the loss of two starters on Sunday.

Goals leader Eddie Johnson and starting midfielder Brad Evans will return to the United States national team.

“Whenever you get a chance to wear the U.S. jersey it’s an honor and a privilege and it’s something you don’t want to take for granted,” Johnson said. “Myself and Brad Evans, it’s tough to leave our team here because at the start of the season we set goals as a team, and winning the Supporters’ Shield (is one of those) goals, and we’re in a race for it.”

The Sounders, 15-9-6 with four games to play, are two points behind MLS-leading New York, and one behind Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake, with two games in hand against each.

Seattle plays Wednesday at home against Vancouver and on the road Sunday at Portland. Those games will influence the Supporters’ Shield, the Western Conference playoff races, and will decide the 2013 Cascade Cup.

“Those are the games we look forward to every year,” Johnson said. “But … if I’m leaving it’s going to be for a good cause. It’s one thing to get called into the national team; but if you’re going and you take it for granted and you’re not going to get anything out of it, you might as well not even go. I’m very blessed and very fortunate to have this opportunity again, and I’m going to make the most of it.”

Johnson and Evans were among 20 players U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann recalled as the U.S. concludes its 2014 World Cup qualifying round with a match on Friday against Jamaica at Kansas Ciy, Kan., and Oct. 15 at Panama. The U.S. clinched a spot in next year’s World Cup in Brazil after beating Mexico, 2-0, on Sept. 10.

“We want to finish off the year on a high note,” Klinsmann told USsoccer.com. … These games already count toward the World Cup in 2014 in terms of the international competition and the mentality we are trying to build.”

Also selected were goalkeepers Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton) and Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake); defenders DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting K.C.), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana) and Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles); midfielders Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) and Graham Zusi (Sporting K.C.); and forwards Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (L.A.) and Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar).

The Sounders return to practice Monday, and coach Sigi Schmid is expected to update the health of the team, including Clint Dempsey (hamstring), Obafemi Martins (hip), Steve Zakuani (groin), Djimi Traore (hamstring) and Leo Gonzalez (hip).

“I’m very confident my teammates … can get the job done in the two games that we miss,” Johnson said. “We’ve got Clint coming back. Oba’s there. Steve Zakuani is still pushing for his fitness and stuff. So, we’ve got a strong team.”

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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