John hopes third time's the charm vs. Sounders

FCD's young defender wants another crack at his hometown team

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.”