On top of an already challenging test in one of the most-anticipated games in the young MLS season, FC Dallas defender Greg Vanney will face an entirely different set of emotions as he returns to home to face the club with which he began his career.
A graduate of UCLA, Vanney was part of the Los Angeles Galaxy in their inaugural season of 1996 and spent six years with the club. While he never won MLS Cup in his time with the Galaxy - reaching the championship game three times - they won the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions' Cup in his final year in L.A.
Now after spent the last few seasons with SC Bastia in France's Ligue 1, he's making his first appearance against his former club, this time at the heart of the FCD back four.
"When I get there I will see the guys I haven't seen in a while - the team has changed so much that there is only three guys that I played with when I was there, the rest of the team has changed," said Vanney. "A lot of change within the organization since I left three years ago."
But while much has changed on the field, the surroundings will much be the same - though it will be Vanney's first MLS game in The Home Depot Center, once again expected to be filled with a sellout crowd of 27,000.
"What will be kind of exciting are the fans," Vanney said. "I haven't played in front of those fans for a long time."
Vanney has been a key part of the FC Dallas resurgence this season. While the team's scintillating attack has garnered much of the attention, the back line has allowed just two goals in four games - the defensive record in the league, with much down to Vanney's influence.
"Greg is a very vocal leader. He has been very helpful in the back in that you always hear him talking, communicating with the other players and he has been there for me in my transition to right back -- he has been huge, instrumental," said Bobby Rhine.
"He is always talking and communicating with the guys around him, it just makes players feel more comfortable and he certainly adds a lot of composure -- and plays great passes out of the back. I think that is something that really helps us start our attack.
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.