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Challenges, reunions for FCD on Pac NW swing

George John

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

FRISCO, Texas – With three of the season’s first four games played in the comfy confines of Pizza Hut Park, FC Dallas face their first extended road trip of the year as they head to the Pacific Northwest to take on expansion sides Portland (Sunday, 6 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live) and Vancouver (April 23).

That also means back-to-back games on artificial turf. In preparation, FC Dallas trained on the surface Thursday at the Pizza Hut Park complex to better acclimate themselves.

Midfielder Eric Avila had an opinion on which surface he preferred.

“We are not big fans of the turf – we wish it was grass – but it’s all right,” he said. “Thankfully we have the facilities here to train and get ready, but I think we will be fine.”

For defender George John (above), this trip is a homecoming of sorts as the third-year defender hails from Shoreline, Wash., and was a four-year player at the University of Washington.

And while the Timbers Army will be the primary source of noise, FC Dallas will have a few fans of their own Sunday evening at JELD-WEN Field – John’s family will make the trip south to Portland.

“It’s going to be nice and I’m looking forward to it,” said John. “It’s always tough playing expansions teams for their first couple of home games. I’m sure they will be fired up with all the fans and it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

[inline_node:333666]Aside from John’s family, familiar faces will also be in abundance for FCD’s opponents on this road trip. Portland feature former FC Dallas star forward Kenny Cooper and defender Steve Purdy while the Vancouver Whitecaps have former FCD players Atiba Harris and Blake Wagner.

But it’s been a while since FCD have Cooper in particular. The tall striker from Dallas left during the summer of 2009 to pursue opportunities in Germany with 1860 Munich before signing with Portland during the offseason.

While with FC Dallas, Cooper – whose size and strength are a handful for opposing teams – scored the second-most goals in team history with 40 in 90 games played.

“He’s a great guy, a great friend of mine,” said Avila. “I’m excited to see him. He’s been out for a while in Germany and it’ll be a test for us because he’s a great player.