John hopes third time's the charm

FCD's young defender wants another crack at Seattle

george-john

Photo Credit: 
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

George John’s first two games against Seattle Sounders
FC last year didn’t exactly go according to plan.

It was set up to be a great story: a Seattle-area kid
who went to nearby Washington who was now an MLS rookie and facing his hometown
team. However, both meetings ended prematurely for the 6-foot-3 center back.

In the first meeting last May at Pizza Hut Park, John
played just 28 minutes as a hamstring injury forced him to leave the
proceedings early. He missed the next six games with that injury before
returning on July 4 against the New York Red Bulls.

And in the final game of the ’09 regular season at Qwest
Field, the injury bug bit John again as he had to leave the match just 40
minutes in with a left leg injury. So with Sounders FC visiting Frisco on
Thursday night, the Evergreen State product will be ready.

“Both times [last year], I didn’t make it to the
second half because of injury,” John said after training on Monday. “I pulled
my hamstring playing here at home and turned my ankle there in Seattle. It was
definitely a frustrating time there last year but hopefully I can have a good
showing this year and make it through 90 minutes.”

So far this season, John has started at center back in
all three of FCD’s games. In week one, Kyle Davies joined him before breaking
his right arm and having to leave the field in the second half against Houston.
Ugo Ihemelu returned the following week and he and John continue to form a nice
partnership in the middle.

“I’m just trying to stick around him and pick up his
secrets so to speak,” John said of his veteran teammate. “He’s been in the
league for a while. Hopefully our relationship will be such that we can be
successful together this season and in the future.”

One big change for John in 2010 is that he entered
preseason several pounds lighter, which has helped him in several ways.

“I think it’s just helped me come in with more
confidence,” the FCD defender said. “I came in fit and ready to play. I think
just mentally knowing that I prepared myself properly in the offseason getting
ready to compete, it has helped me out quite a bit.”

On Monday, FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman evaluated
John’s most recent performance in a 2-1 road loss on Saturday night at New
York.

“He had [Juan Pablo] Ángel or Salou [Ibrahim], two
pretty athletic players and then [Macoumba] Kandji comes in, he really hasn’t
had any easy players to play against,” Hyndman said. “He’s served his
purpose-winning tackles and also winning air balls.”

Considering John’s disappointment in leaving his first
two games against Sounders FC early, the fact he is from the Seattle area and
also that it was Seattle who eliminated FCD from playoff contention in the
final week of 2009, there are plenty of reasons for him to be especially fired
up for Thursday’s game. However, the big center back is taking a different
approach.

“Yeah, I’m up for it but it’s just another team for
me,” John said. “There is nothing personal. We’ve got to get a win just like
any other game. I’m not putting any extra emphasis because it’s Seattle or
whatnot. It’s just another team and we’ve got to get a win. I’m going to focus
just like I normally do.”

And with FCD just 0-1-2 and languishing at the bottom
of the Western Conference standings, John isn’t quite ready to label Thursday’s
affair as a must-win.

“I think
we need to win, yeah,” he said. “[But] I wouldn’t necessarily classify this as
a must-win,” he said. “I don’t have enough experience to do that.”