It’s been a week of somewhat mixed news for FC Dallas fans. First came the disconcerting news from Florida that 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira had suffered an Achilles injury earlier in the week. While it doesn’t appear serious, the fact that “El Torito” now has another ailment to fight through in a preseason where he’s already been battling his way back from missing all but six games in 2011 is more than a small worry.
Then on Friday, FCD supporters learned that George John would indeed be re-joining the club after spending the last six weeks on loan with English Championship (a.k.a. second-division) side West Ham United.
Anyone who tracked the affable center back’s time in Jolly Ole England knows that he didn’t get a ton of run with the Hammers and while his stay across the pond didn’t work out well for him from that standpoint, it definitely worked out well for FCD since they now get their starting right center back for 2012.
It’s no big secret that anyone who has watched this team over the last few seasons knows that the pairing of John and Ugo Ihemelu, who was named Dallas’ captain earlier this week, is not only a rock-solid tandem in the middle of the park, but is also a Dynamic Duo that has to be considered one of the best center back combinations in all of Major League Soccer.
Colombian newcomer Hernan Pertuz has filled in well alongside Ihemelu during John’s stay in England and the two looked like they were starting to develop a solid partnership on the pitch during preseason. A major obstacle for that pairing is the clear language barrier between the South American Pertuz, who speaks little English and American Ihemelu.
That language barrier is much less a factor with the return of John. Some might wonder if he jumps right back in the fray and if he’ll be in Schellas Hyndman’s first 11 for next Sunday’s season opener with New York? Well, in this writer's opinion, of course he will.
It’s not like George has been sitting around inactive or on the lam (sorry, had to work Lamar Odom in there). John's been training and staying in shape. About the only adjustment he’ll have to make is maybe getting reacquainted with his teammates, but that too might be overstated.
While John’s stay in England most likely provided considerable benefits, even though he didn’t play a ton with the Hammers, it’s nice to have him back. And it’s also nice to have him back with FCD and in a situation the club wasn’t in for much of 2011, with a solid and fairly deep group of center backs.
Besides Pertuz, rookie Matt Hedges should also be ready to step in at a moment’s notice. If the club decides to keep 2012 supplemental pick Alex Lee, which it looke like they will, FCD figures to have sufficient depth in the middle.
Still, no matter who sticks besides Pertuz and Hedges, this will be a deep group, so deep that the mere possibility of having Zach Loyd slide over from right back to the middle won’t even be a remote possibility. At least FCD fans hope not.
So it’s good to have George John back in the fold. He’s been a big part of what has been a solid Dallas backline over the past few years and his return makes center back almost at the bottom of the list when it comes to concerns surrounding this year’s club.
There is, however, still one question yet to be answered about John's return. With his contract up at the end of the year, will he re-sign with FCD or test the international waters yet again later this year? Stay tuned to see how that one turns out but at least for now it’s great to know such a defensive cornerstone will be back in Frisco for the foreseeable future, isn’t it?