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February 27, 2009 at 8:48 AM

George John getting healthier

Here’s a story about former UW player George John from the MLS Web site:

John’s recovery almost complete

FC Dallas rookie nearing return to pitch following knee injury

By Steve Hunt

MLSnet.com – February 26, 2009

FRISCO, Texas — When FC Dallas selected George John 14th overall in last month’s MLS SuperDraft, the club knew that it might be some time before he saw the field.

The University of Washington product was injured during the annual adidas MLS Player Combine in the days leading to the draft, and was slated to miss around five or six weeks before making his debut.

FCD is in Brazil for the next 10 days and John could not only see his first action on the training field with the club, but also possibly could see his first game action.

“The good news with George John is that he will be able to start training with us next week,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “He has the capability of being a center back for us. I think we have been very pleased with his progress. He also has the capability of playing defensive midfield, so we’re going to train him in both of those positions in case we have an injury with Pablo (Ricchetti), a suspension or those types of things. George is going to do well for us and his status is that he will train with the team starting next week.”

John acknowledges that it has been a long road back.

“I’m felling pretty good right now,” he said on Wednesday. “I’m getting back into shape a little bit and my knee is feeling 100 percent better than it did when I showed up here. I think probably about five or six days from now, I will get back into training a little bit. I will kind of ease my way back into it. It’s not 100 percent yet, but it feels a lot better than it did both before and after the combine.”

During his senior year at Washington, John suffered a knee injury. His most recent injury was related to that incident.

“I had meniscus surgery in my senior year, in October and I kind of rushed back to get in shape for the combine because that was very important for me,” John said. “What happened was I came back too early and had a related injury. I had stress fractures in my bones, in the knee, and bone bruising. So it was related to the fact that my knee wasn’t strong enough after the surgery. It’s not the same injury but a related one.”

Still, he calls the entire process extremely tedious.

“It’s been extremely frustrating,” he said. “Being to a new team, especially being a rookie, you want to be able to prove yourself to the guys on the team. I haven’t had that chance yet, so I’ve just been sitting on my hands, keeping my head down and waiting for my opportunity to get out and play.”

And not being able to participate in full training has made his transition to his new surroundings a bit tougher.

“Not only am I new to the team, but I’m new to the league and also new to the professional level,” John said. “So it’s been a very difficult time for me. Luckily I’ve been able to connect with some of the players off the field a little bit. (Fellow newcomer) Steve Purdy and I have been in the hotel across the street, so I have become close with him. You do feel isolated.”

Still, Hyndman has been very pleased with John’s progression during his recovery.

“I think they told us it would take five weeks before we got him out there and I think we’re into our fifth week,” he said. “I’ve been watching him very closely. We wanted him to get treatment here and not go back to Seattle and maybe get treatment from some non-soccer person. I was watching him (Wednesday) and his lateral movement and acceleration is much better. He’s very hungry to get on the field. We want to continue to gradually build him. I thought that he had a pretty good combine, good enough for us to want to draft him in the first round. I think he has the capabilities to play for us. I think he’s going to be a player that FC Dallas will be happy with down the road.”

Being injured allowed John to get some pointers from a fellow FCD defender — though that relationship changed when Adrian Serioux was dealt to Toronto FC earlier this week.

“He was just traded but he was injured too, so we kind of bonded a little bit,” John said of Serioux. “I asked him what it takes to be successful because he’s been around for a long time. So he gave me some good advice. I took everything he had to say to heart.”

Since it has been a number of months since his last competitive game, John knows even after he returns to practice, it will still be some time before he reaches full fitness.

“I think it’s going to take me a while to adjust because I haven’t been playing soccer on a regular basis since September or October,” he said. “So it’s going to take me a while to adjust. Like any rookie, it’s tough to go into the league and play right away. Eventually, I will be able to contribute but it’s just going to take time for me to get used to the speed of the play and the physical nature of the game.”

And going from the cooler climate of the Seattle area to the warm climate of Dallas will also take some getting used to.

“I definitely think I am going to have to step up my fitness a lot,” John said. “I’m used to playing in dreary weather where two or three months of the year, you will get nice temperatures. From what I hear, it’s very hot here in the summertime and I will have to get used to that.”

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