I suppose it's time to address the fact that George John, a player that most of us saw as a defensive leader of FC Dallas for many years to come, is moving to England to join English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers in a move that has been valued at both 2 million pounds and 2 million dollars. Schellas Hyndman has now commented on it(which we will get to later in the story), Blackburn manager Steve Kean has commented on it, and the deal is basically done.
I'm going to look at this in three different ways, first the short-term impact I see it making on the club, then the long-term impact I see on the move for FC Dallas and finally my own personal feelings on pulling the trigger for this deal.
The defense will struggle to get back to elite level in 2011 I don't really see this move hurting Dallas past the next couple of weeks in the sense that when you look at the schedule coming up after the Sounders Open Cup game next Tuesday, Dallas has a week and a half off to get healthy and rested for the stretch run. I believe that a combination of Zach Loyd/Andrew Jacobson will do fine against the lower MLS sides that Dallas has remaining on their schedule.
However, where Dallas will struggle is to stop the Seattles, Los Angeles' and Colorado's of the world come late October. I'm just not convinced this group as currently composed can walk into the Home Depot Center again and pitch another shutout.
Midfield affect Dallas was at its most dominant this season when Andrew Jacobson was playing in the center of midfield. If he is moved to the center of defense, like Schellas has said he might be, that means you're looking at Daniel Cruz and Bruno Guarda as the first choice central midfielders for Dallas even when David Ferreira returns to to attacking mid spot a month from now. Is that good enough to win the average MLS game? Probably, but not up to par with making the championship again.
PR Hit There's no way around it, this is a loss of a fan favorite and locker room presence. Whether he wanted to go or not, selling one of your best players in the middle of probably the team's best chance for a trophy in 15 years is a tough message to send. When Cooper was sold, we all knew Dallas was going nowhere and needed to rebuild, but this move puts a real body blow into Dallas' efforts for a trophy.
However, don't fret because there's lots of good sides to this move as well! Read on for those
$2 million If John is indeed sold for $2 million, it represents the biggest sale in franchise history and an amount of money that could potentially get you 2 or 3 stars from South America. This kind of sale will allow Dallas to get a whole lot more flexible in how they deal with Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo in the future. However...
Pressure is on There will be a ton of pressure on HSG, Gorman and Hyndman to spend some money and bring in a superstar caliber player or two. Assuming Dallas gets roughly 75% of the transfer fee, that is a boatload of money and enough to improve the team all over the pitch. It may not translate into a big transfer fee paid for someone else but it could become an allocation used to make a player whose salary may have been unworkable last year suddenly able to fit into the team.
Dallas as a viable second step George John becomes the third player Dallas has sold on to Europe in the last four seasons. [Juan Toja(2008), Kenny Cooper(2009)] I can't think of any MLS team that has sold this many players to Europe and while it is unfortunate to have to sell players, the reality of the situation is that these kinds of deals allow you to sign players like Fabian Castillo. Not only because they give you the money to be able to afford them, but it gives you the credibility of selling a guy on coming to Dallas as the final step before Europe rather than Mexico or Argentina. Bottom line is if there's teams around Europe that want your players, you're doing something right.
I have a lot of mixed feelings on this move as I'm sure pretty much everyone who follows FC Dallas and wants them to succeed on the pitch does. In MLS, the way I believe you build a dynasty is find a combination of back four that is rock solid, relatively inexpensive and able to stay together for years to come. In Zach Loyd, Ugo Ihemelu, George John and Jair Benitez, Dallas had a back line with four guys you could potentially lock up to fair, salary cap friendly numbers. They've proven to be good enough to get you to MLS Cup and compete for every trophy. For a team that hasn't won a trophy in 15 years, it's a tough pill to swallow when everyone following the team has seen what they're capable of.
However, you cannot keep a player against his will. Schellas Hyndman had this to say to the media today in Todd Date's article that you should read immediately.
"We’ve been trying to re-sign him for over a year but he basically chose that salary so he didn’t have to re-sign. I think he was looking at maybe a European passport or other opportunities. But this quite honestly isn’t the place he wanted to be," Hyndman said. "If that’s the case, I think ownership and everyone else are probably making the right decision for the future of our club so that we can compete. This was not an easy decision for everyone to make."
Negativity felt against FC Dallas for agreeing to this move to misplaced, in my opinion. As a fan you have to understand where your team sits in the football pecking order. FC Dallas cannot compete with the big bucks and bright lights of the big European leagues. As a club, all you can do is develop players the best you can, do everything you can to keep them here and when the time comes to sell get as much money as possible for them. In George John's case, Dallas has done this.
$2million(or potentially more) is a bucket of money that allows Dallas a hell of a lot of flexibility going forward whether it's in improving the academy facilities even further, paying contract extensions, allocation money sent to other teams or transfer money that you flip for the next Fabian Castillo.
Dallas is a team that survived losing their MVP and came out stronger for it, the loss of George John will certainly have a negative impact in 2011, but I do believe the move will improve FC Dallas in the future as Schellas Hyndman says. The task for Barry Gorman now becomes finding a center back to pair with Ugo Ihemelu in 2012 that is committed to the cause for years to come. If he can do that in less time than it took Dallas to find a forward to replace Jeff Cunningham, every other piece is in place for a 2012 championship run.