Husky leads Dallas defense

Husky leads Dallas defense

UW and Shorwood HS product George John holds down the defense that will try and slow the Sounders FC's four-game winning streak.

A look around Major League Soccer will find a handful of Seattle-area products making waves.

Federal Way native Lamar Neagle made a splash with the Sounders FC in 2011 with five goals and three assists and now finds himself a regular contributor with the Montreal Impact after a preseason trade.

Another midifielder from Federal Way, Kelyn Rowe was the third overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft and has started eight of New England's nine matches, scoring his first professional goal March 31 against the LA Galaxy.

In Dallas, they boast towering center back George John, a Seattle native who also played collegiately at the University of Washington.

The 6-foot-3 center back has been the spine to the FC Dallas defense since joining the league in 2009 as the 14th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft.  He has now played 81 MLS matches and Dallas has been among the top defensive teams in 2010 and 2011.

"He's big.  He's got good size.  He's good in the air.  Those are things you need to bring to the table as a center back," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.  "I think he's willing to talk and he's willing to organize, so all of those things are attributes that he brings to the table and have made him a very effective player."

One more thing that distinguishes him from some other top defenders in the league is his ability to play with the ball at his feet, something Schmid attributes to his college days playing under Dean Wurzburger at Washington.

With his size and command on defense, John has attracted interest from overseas and even spent two months on loan with West Ham United in the English Championship (2nd division), but could not crack their senior lineup and his move was not made permanent.

Now back with Dallas, John is the anchor to the club’s defense.

It's a defense that will need to be at their best when the Sounders FC comes to FC Dallas Stadium on Wednesday.  And it's not just because the Sounders have a strong attack that has been rounding into form of late.

Offensively, FC Dallas will be challenged without two suspended players in Blas Perez and Daniel Hernandez and injured midfielder David Ferreira.  Midfielder Brek Shea also missed Sunday's 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids with turf toe.

That leaves a lot of pressure on the Dallas defense to remain stable and keep pace in the Western Conference until they can get to full strength. Much of that pressure will fall on the shoulders of John after his center back partner Ugo Ihemelu suffered a concussion that will keep him out of the match on Wednesday. Currently 3-4-3, they sit sixth in the West.

Kickoff is set for 5:30 pm Pacific from FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas.  The match will be televised live on KONG 6/16.

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