by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
Although we're knee deep in football season - the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Huskies are both posting winning seasons, thus far - the bigger news in sports around these parts is the Seattle Sounders FC advancing to the Western Conference Finals, putting them a step away from playing for the championship, the MLS Cup.
The team struggled in the first half of the season but finished strongly to secure a spot in the conference finals by beating FC Dallas in aggregate scoring, which allows the team with the most goals combined of a two-game series to move ahead. The Sounders face a similar challenge when they host the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field on November 22 and then meet them again in Denver on November 27, with the winner going to the championship game.
You might recall Seattle Sounders team captain Brad Evans spoke to the SGN this summer, just before the club-sponsored Pride Day in late June. And while the men are busy practicing for the upcoming matches this week, Evans and his teammate, forward Hercules Gomez, took time off the field to answer some questions ahead of the finals. (Tickets for the November 22 match at 7 p.m. PST are available at soundersfc.com. And if you can't attend, Fox Sports 1 (FS1), KIRO 97.3 FM, and El Rey 1360 AM will be broadcasting the action live.)
Via email, here is what Brad Evans and Hercules Gomez shared with the SGN.
Albert Rodriguez: Via Twitter, you replied to Donald Trump's Cinco de Mayo post earlier this year by saying 'I'll play soccer for free if I can smash your face in that bowl.' Now that he's been elected as our new president, would you still want to do it?
Brad Evans: Of course I would. Ultimately my views don't align with his views, and that's how I look at the election process. I never would have thought it would be possible to have someone like Donald Trump in office, but even while I voted Democratic, I think changes need to happen on both sides. We could sit here and talk about it for hours, but I think, ultimately, the only thing we can do is proceed as diplomatically as possible. Reverting back to being negative and resenting the outcome isn't going to get us to where we want to be.
In saying that, is it a hard pill to swallow? Absolutely. But like we spoke about last time we talked, in discussing the tragedy in Orlando at Pulse, with Seattle Pride weekend coming up, I think I said that we all still have to go out, we still have to celebrate and be proud. Just because something happens, no matter how terrible, we can't let it affect us to the point of just hiding and not speaking our minds. So that applies in this situation, too. We have to go out and fight for what we believe is right, in a respectable manner, and move forward. There is always time to change peoples' minds and open them to new ideas, and I think that is evidenced by Trump's first meeting with President Obama, where it seemed to open some thought processes in Trump's mind.
Albert Rodriguez: What are your plans for the upcoming holidays? Where or how will you spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve?
Brad Evans: Well, I was supposed to go home for Thanksgiving, but obviously that had to change. We're always smart enough to buy our holiday travel tickets on Southwest every year, just in case a playoff run happens.
We really haven't made any solid off-season plans yet, because we don't know exactly when we'll be available. Usually we go somewhere for Christmas with our families, but we haven't set any plans yet. We're considering driving down to Southern California and renting a place for a couple weeks - take the dog and see family.
Albert Rodriguez: As team captain, how are you preparing your team mentally for their biggest matches of the year, thus far?
Brad Evans: I think just through my experience, whether that's vocally letting the guys know what to expect or whether it's just coming in every day and helping keep the same exact attitude that got us here in the first place. There's no reason to switch up anything now. With these two weeks of training, we're not going to learn anything new. The only thing we can do is keep our engines running clean and ready to go.
The regular season was an extremely long tournament to make it to this point. We advanced out of that tournament, basically, and now we're in position to make a run in the playoffs, which is ultimately just another tournament. As we all know, anybody can win on tournament day. So the preparation is just making sure that we're giving ourselves the best chance and knowing that we're a good team and we have to play like it.
Albert Rodriguez: What's your reaction to gay male fans having a crush on you? Does that creep you out, or flatter you?
Brad Evans: It's flattering, of course. There's no being creeped out at all. If I'm their cup of tea, I'm their cup of tea.
Albert Rodriguez: How is your dog Coto doing, and what kind of person would be your ideal dog-sitter?
Brad Evans: Coto is awesome. He continues to run the streets of Kirkland. He gets noticed far more often than I do. Somebody actually commented on a photo I posted recently, 'Oh, I think I saw Coto walking around Kirkland yesterday,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, but somebody was walking him, too!' But, no, it's just Coto that people notice.
There's always something going on with him, so the ideal person watching him has to be very in tune with looking after dogs. Coto has had some issues, so he can't just go to the park and chase around a ball for an hour, because he won't be able to walk for the next week. He's not geriatric or anything, but he requires some special handling, like being lifted up to go in and out of the car - he can't jump. He can't chase after a ball. So a knowledgeable person, someone who will really notice the care that Coto needs is ideal. There's actually a guy on the team, Matt Bursano, who does dog-sitting on the side. He's been doing that this whole year and he is awesome with Coto and Coto loves him, too. So, Matt Bursano is my go-to for dog-sitting.
Albert Rodriguez: We talked about food last time, so now let's talk clothes. What's your go-to outfit for a dinner date with your wife?
Brad Evans: I kind of go in phases when it comes to clothes - sometimes I care, sometimes I don't care. Lately I've just been having Becky go out and shop for me, and that's been working out pretty well. But it's Seattle - you can wear a North Face jacket to a nice dinner and it's not out of place. So for me, maybe a nice pair of jeans, my Converse, a cool shirt. In this climate you need to layer, too. Becky does a lot of shopping at AllSaints for me, and there's a store in downtown Kirkland called Asher Goods that's a little more outdoorsy.
Albert Rodriguez: If you weren't a professional soccer player, what do you think you'd be doing right now?
Brad Evans: That's a good question, because I honestly have no idea. And that part of my life is coming up, actually. I left school early for the draft, so I don't have my degree yet, so I think first and foremost I'd be sure to go back to school and get my degree. I had been working on doing so in social sciences with an emphasis on multicultural education. I don't see myself becoming a teacher, but I do see myself as bringing people together and being a communicator. I'm really open for anything when it comes to post-career.
Albert Rodriguez: Have you found any good Mexican food restaurants in Seattle?
Hercules Gomez: There is one place that I like a lot. It's called El Fogón. I like their carne asada tacos and tortas, and the tostadas de tinga is good. They've got some things that I really enjoy.
Albert Rodriguez: If we offered to buy you a drink at a bar, what would you order?
Hercules Gomez: It depends on the night. I enjoy a good beer, a good pint, but I'm a whiskey guy, so probably a good whiskey would do. If you see me at a bar, just remember I'm a whiskey guy.
Albert Rodriguez: Was it a boyhood dream for you to play professional soccer?
Hercules Gomez: It wasn't really a boyhood dream, but once I started getting a lot of attention as a player in my teens, I started to realize that maybe one day I could actually make a living out of the sport. Once I got more of a taste of the high-level competition, it fed the hunger of, 'Wow, this is something tangible.' At that point, it started really becoming more of a dream and a goal, and the dream kept getting bigger all the time. First I wanted to play MLS [Major League Soccer], then play on the national team, then play in a World Cup - all these other dreams started sprouting up.
Albert Rodriguez: What do you like most about living in the Seattle area?
Hercules Gomez: That's a tough question! I guess I really like that there are all four seasons here. When I was living down south, in Mexico, I didn't get to experience the different seasons. In Seattle, you get a much better sense of that. Summers here are incredible, and while we don't get a lot of snow in the winter, we have the mountains nearby and you can get away there. My wife and I don't mind the rain, either; it's been a good change for us. Seattle just, overall, has a good vibe to it - a good, diverse vibe.
Albert Rodriguez: Were you aware that the Seattle Sounders were so involved with and connected to the local LGBT community?
Hercules Gomez: Yes, I was. It's awesome. Listen, the best thing we can be is kind to each other, regardless of any of our perceived differences, whether race, gender, sexual preference, religious beliefs, whatever. We're all in this together and the only way we can move forward is by working together. Tolerance is a big factor in that.
Albert Rodriguez: What does Seattle have to do to beat Colorado in the conference finals?
Hercules Gomez: Other than the simple answer of scoring more goals than they do, we just have to continue doing what we've been doing. We're a very strong team at home, so we have to continue playing to those strengths and take care of business at home on Tuesday so that we put ourselves in the best position possible to go into Colorado. The way to do that is to play with the intensity and fire and offensive element of surprise that we've been doing.
Colorado is a very good team. They narrowly missed out on the Supporter's Shield [award for the best regular-season record in the MLS], so we know that it's going to be a battle. It's not going to be easy, but we have something special going, and sometimes on a playoff run, being hot is as important as being good.
Albert Rodriguez: Can you describe Brad Evans in one word?
Hercules Gomez: Random - but in the good way. With Brad, you never know exactly what he's going to do or say. A majority of the time he's going to be goofy or funny, but he's got so many layers to him.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!