FRISCO, Texas – George John looks to be fully recovered from the hamstring strain that has caused him to miss the last four games of FC Dallas’ seven-game winless slump.
He has trained fully with the team the last two days and, while the big center back’s physical presence on the field will undeniably be a boost to the squad, the team has also missed his leadership in the back.
“When you look at our back four, Jair [Benítez] is not vocal, Matt [Hedges] is not vocal and Zach [Loyd] is not vocal,” head coach Schellas Hyndman told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “[John] comes in and coordinates everybody together and some people thrive off of that and … play better because of [the leadership].
“What he also brings in is a little bit of intensity and he’s a little bit more vocal.”
Hyndman went on to say that John can also help key the offense on set pieces by not only being another big target for balls served by Michel or David Ferreira, but also by tying up the opposition’s best defender, which will free other players to attack those deliveries in the opposing penalty box.
For his part, John said he is glad to be recovered from the injury and is looking forward to getting back onto the pitch. He thinks it is key for the team to stay positive and said that while they definitely need to get three points soon and put an end to the slide, he stopped short of calling Saturday's match against the Montreal Impact (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE) a must-win game.
“I try to personally stay away from extremes, best-case/worst-case scenario-type things,” John told MLSsoccer.com. “Obviously we’re going through a rough stretch, seven-game winless streak, so it’s important that we win soon, but I don’t think you’re ever facing a must-win unless you’re in the playoffs or battling at the end of the season to make the playoffs.
“You always want to win and it’s important that we do so, but when you put expectations like [must-win], it puts unnecessary pressure on you.”
Hyndman agreed that it’s too early in the season to start labeling games in that manner, but does believe it is important for his team’s confidence to not only end the winless run, but to also beat a strong team in their own stadium.
“I think it’s really an opportunity … to get back into the win [column] and also it’s a character test right now,” said Hyndman. “For us, we’ve only won one game on the road … I think with Montreal [in a winless run of their own], they’re going to be a buzzsaw right now. We have to be able to go in there and perform.”