Melissa Majchrzak/Getty

Aztex players reflect on MLS days

When the Austin Aztex scrimmaged FC Dallas on Wednesday just outside Pizza Hut Park, it was a homecoming of sorts for several Aztex players.

Aztex teammates Jay Needham, Dane Saintus and Jamie Watson are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, while goalkeeper Sean Kelley was with FCD during preseason.

Needham is a native of Fort Worth who played for current FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman at SMU. Since leaving the Hilltop, he played for former FCD coach Colin Clarke in Puerto Rico in 2007 and most recently spent two seasons with Alta IF of Norway.

“Overseas was fun,” Needham said. “I think it’s something that if you get a chance to do, you should go do it. I think every footballer owes that to himself. I was very successful and got to play a lot. My wife and I decided it was time to start looking to come back home. Her being from Austin played a big part in me coming home, so it’s good for us.”

Watson is a name a bit more familiar to MLS fans. After one year at North Carolina, he was a top draft pick of Real Salt Lake and coached by John Ellinger, who now serves as Hyndman’s top assistant with FCD. Watson remained with RSL for several years before landing with FCD in 2008.

“[I have] a lot of great memories here," Watson said of playing on the same field where he used to practice with FCD. "They have a great group here and a lot of them are still around from when I was here. Throughout the game, it’s more fun than others because you know everybody. Obviously, that makes it difficult because you know what they’re going to do and they know what you’re going to do. I had a great time and enjoyed my time very much here. I’m just happy to be back.”

Needham agreed it was good to return to such familiar surroundings.

“It was nice when we were coming in and headed down the toll road, I had so many memories and was just thinking about spending the better part of my teenage years coming out this way and playing,” he said. “Even if it was a preseason day, it was nice to think about all the good times I’ve had playing soccer.”