The Chipotle Homegrown Game was a fun night for Portland Timbers midfielder Steven Evans.
Born and raised in the Portland metro area, Evans came up through the local club ranks, played for the Portland Timbers U-23s and collegiately at the University of Portland before becoming a Timbers Homegrown Player in 2013. So representing his hometown in the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game at Providence Park wasn’t just any day at the office.
Evans was in the Starting XI for the MLS Homegrown Team and wore the captain’s armband, helping lead a crop of Major League Soccer’s top young talent onto the field in a hard-fought 0-0 draw against the Timbers U-23s of the Premier Development League (PDL).
“I think the PDL team came out flying,” said Evans. “They were definitely in for a game and I think we were in for a game too, because we all have something to prove being Homegrown Players. So it was pretty exciting and pretty physical and pretty demanding, too.”
Certainly, being a part of the MLS All-Star Week festivities and getting to represent the league would be enough of an honor. But the warm welcome from the crowd for Portland’s own made Evans, who returned to the Rose City from his loan assignment with Sacramento Republic FC for the game, feel right at home.
“I’ve had a lot of friends and family show a lot of support this week,” said Evans. “I had to get a lot of extra tickets for everybody and my Dad invited a lot of his friends. It was a pretty cool thing to be playing back here.”
This week has been filled with unbelievable support from my friends and family...I feel honored to have played in the @ChipotleTweets game— Steven Evans (@Steven_Evans5) August 5, 2014
The MLS Homegrown Players played against the Timbers U-23s, a team Evans played four seasons for from 2009-12. He first joined the Timbers U-23s at the age of 18, just ahead of his freshman season at the University of Portland. Playing against one of his former teams and coaches provided for a little pre-game banter and a fun twist on the competition.
“It was pretty sweet, I’d have to say,” added Evans. “I know a couple guys on the [Timbers U-23s] team, so I saw them beforehand, kind of talked a little trash and it was a pretty cool thing for me.”
Evans, in his second MLS season, has spent a majority of the 2014 campaign on loan with Republic FC, a member of USL PRO. And after a 45-minute shift with the MLS Homegrown Team, and some home-cooking, it’s now back to work with Sacramento.
“I’m heading back down [Tuesday]; early morning,” Evans said after the match. “Hopefully, get some time with [Sacramento] this coming weekend and just enjoy it down there, too.”
Evans has made seven league appearances for Republic FC, logging 333 minutes and contributing to the club’s run at a postseason berth in their inaugural USL PRO campaign.
“Sacramento has been great for me,” added Evans. “Because I get playing time, I get experience and I stay in shape just in case coach [Caleb Porter] needs me at any point.”