Although he was a mainstay of the Portland Timbers Reserves where he filled in all across the pitch, Steven Evans, the Timbers' Community Player of the Year, started his MLS career off as a project.
2012 Rank: N/A
After signing as the club's second homegrown player, Evans did not make an appearance for the Timbers' first team in 2013. Evans did, however, see significant action with the reserves. Playing in each of the Timbers Reserves' 12 games, Evans' 1035' on the pitch was the second highest this year and his lone goal one the season opened the 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders Reserves.
Evans' lone appearance in a game of consequence this year came in the Timbers' 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the early stages of the US Open Cup.
Despite his lack of first team minutes, the real development for Evans came on the practice pitch. An attacking midfielder in college, Caleb Porter pegged Evans as a box to box midfielder in the vein of Will Johnson at the professional level and much of this season was spent molding Evans into the player that Porter wants him to be. Already proficient in the attack, he was one of the NCAA's leading goalscorers in 2012, Evans has been working on his defending, positioning, and fitness all season with the aim of transforming him into the sort of all-around player that Porter seems to prefer.
Next year it is safe to say that, on a homegrown player contract, Evans will be back. The real question is whether he will be shipped off on loan, likely to the Timbers' perpetually rumored USL affiliate Sacramento FC, or kept around Portland to continue his time working under Porter and Sean McAuley. With Will Johnson, Diego Chara, and Ben Zemanski his direct competition for playing time, a loan is really the only way for Evans to get first team playing time. Either way, next year looks likely to be another developmental year for Evans.