In a season of rollercoasters, I'm not sure anyone's has been higher and lower than George John's. Having spent the first couple months on loan at West Ham United with the English club having an option to purchase the big defender at any time, most thought it was probably unlikely that John would ever play for FC Dallas again. Schellas Hyndman said throughout the pre-season that it was "50-50", but in reality the chances of him returning probably weren't that good.
However, after failing to make a first-team appearance for the Hammers, John returned just before the start of the 2012 campaign. While he would appear as a substitute in his first two matches, John soon won back his starting spot, appearing in the starting XI for 12 of the 13 game as he worked back to match fitness.
Then the injury bug struck as John missed seven straight games with concussion symptoms. The rollercoaster swung upward upon his return, starting seven games in a row in which FCD went 4-1-2. Unfortunately, he badly sprained his ankle on a freak play in the Vancouver match that basically ended his season. John would make one more substitute appearance, but the Greek-American was seriously hobbled even as he appeared in that match.
Of course, the rollercoaster hit the highest point just a couple weeks ago as it was announced the team and John had agreed to a three-year contract, keeping the Washington-native in Dallas for the foreseeable future.
Top 10 Center Back When healthy, it's tough to argue that George John is a top 10 center back in the league. Dominant in the air with good positioning and solid passing, John works perfectly into what FC Dallas tries to do and if he puts together a long string of good games, could be back on the radar of the US National Team as he's still just 25 years old.
Hitting his Prime Locking up George for years 26-28 of his life was just huge for FC Dallas. They should have John through the prime of his career, and it's not unrealistic to expect huge things out of George in this coming season paired next to Matt Hedges.
Leadership and Experience George has quickly become one of the most tenured players on the roster and, with his new contract, has no questions or uncertainty about his future. I look for John to take more of a leadership role on the team this year as well.
George began to really come into form early in the season when FC Dallas traveled to LA. FCD would disappointingly give up a late goal in the 1-1 draw, but John, making his fifth start in a row, was statistically the best central defender in the league that weekend with an incredible eight interceptions.
There's also, of course, the moment that he signed his new three-year contract, though that's a bit more boring.
Simply Needs to Re-Focus Ever since the initial interest from Blackburn in which John's deal to join the Premier League club fell apart at the eleventh hour, things have just been uncertain for George. Between poor loan deals, injuries and uncertainty about his future, he could be forgiven if his mind has been pulled in 5 different ways over the last year and a half.
I really think George is one of those guys that could enter into the discussion for comeback player of the year in 2013. With a new contract, no distractions and no injuries, I think we should see John return to the form that put him squarely on the national team radar in the past. You even wonder if he could be a darkhorse for a 2013 Gold Cup callup.
It's tough to give a super solid grade as John was only able to start 19 matches due to injuries and he had to work himself into match fitness, but when fit and playing he was good. I'll give him a 5.5 for the season, a little below par, but not terrible.