John Returns Home To Rousing Support
Oct. 27, 2009
By Zachary Gussin
Three hundred Greeks faced an army 10-times greater than their own. They boisterously yelled, roared and marched beneath the setting sun. Their hero fell, and emboldened by this, their Hellenic antics grew all the more absurd. No, this isn't the script for a screen adaptation of a comic book. Saturday marked the UW's own George John's first trip back to Seattle to compete with FC Dallas against the Sounders since he was taken 14th overall in last year's Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft. A crowd of 300 of his friends within the greater Seattle Greek community purchased a block of tickets in the northeast section of Qwest Field to watch John compete against the Sounders, and they proceeded to go what can only be described as 'bananas.'
John himself played inspired defense until an injury in the 29th minute of the match. He sprained his ankle, and, although the injury seemed serious, there was speculation that he might return. FC Dallas refrained from sending in his substitute for about five minutes, electing instead to play a man down for that period of time while it was determined whether or not John could continue. Eventually, however, the decision was made to call it a day for the rookie.
John's season had been derailed by injury before, so this is nothing new for the defender.
'I had knee surgery at the end of my senior year at UW, for my meniscus, and when I was drafted by Dallas, I was still dealing with that injury,' John said. 'I've had some hamstring issues that stemmed from the rehab, since I was compensating for a lack of strength in the knee. I finally got that figured out, and then this happened.'
John was speaking with me after just receiving his diagnosis, a dreaded high-ankle sprain. However, he maintained a positive outlook, saying that his season would be over anyway, and that he was excited to build and get better. Dallas' playoff dreams ended in the final regular season game of the '09 campaign. Although Dallas shot out to an early lead, the Sounders won, 2-1, in one of the most exciting performances of their inaugural season, thereby clinching a third-place berth in the Western Conference and continuing their strong momentum heading into the playoffs.
FC Dallas came into Seattle as one of the hottest squads in the league, led by a reinvigorated defensive line and striker Jeff Cunningham. Cunningham put up an incredible 13 goals in the last 11 matches coming into Saturday, and he won the Golden Boot scoring title this year with 17 scores.
John raved about Cunningham's play and his team as a whole.
'When you're a professional athlete, everything is better when you win,' John said. 'The last month was great for us. The owners were happy, fans were happy. We really turned it up at the end of the year, hoping to make it into the playoffs. We got off to too horrible of a start this season, though, and couldn't make it all up.'
John had fond memories of his time in Seattle, and he still considers the Emerald City his home.
'I loved being a Husky,' John said. 'It was a great time in my career. I met some great people. I wish we could have won a couple more games, a championship, but I miss college soccer and the camaraderie.'
John was emphatic in citing Huskies' head coach Dean Wurzberger and the rest of his staff as an integral part of his success.
'They helped me advance while I was at UW,' John said. 'A lot of credit should be given to them as to why I'm a special soccer player.'
Special enough, perhaps, to warrant international stardom one day.
John harbors a dream of one day playing in the Greek professional league, although he says he's a ways off from achieving that.
'First, I'd have to prove myself in MLS,' John said. 'I'd like to be successful here before I make the move.'
Until then, be prepared for madness every time the Sounders host the former Husky's team.
'That's just how the Greeks do,' John said. 'They're passionate about soccer and happy to see you do well.'
Reach columnist Zachary Gussin at firstname.lastname@example.org.