It turned out to be the sure thing that wasn’t.
Spawning confusion on both sides of the pond, FC Dallas center back George John rejoined his MLS club on Monday in Seattle after failing to reach an agreement with English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers.
John spent all of last week in Europe gathering his Greek ID and negotiating with the Lancashire team, and it seemed certain he'd be joining Blackburn before the European transfer window closed on Wednesday. But on Sunday morning, FC Dallas announced that the 24-year-old would be returning to the US to finish out the MLS season.
John wouldn’t pinpoint where the two sides stalled in contract negotiations after training with FC Dallas in Seattle ahead of their US Open Cup semifinal on Tuesday (10 pm ET, watch LIVE on SoundersFC.com).
“I got over there and it was a really good experience,” John told MLSsoccer.com by phone Monday evening. “They welcomed me with open arms and it’s just that the timing wasn’t right. We are going to maintain a relationship and right now I’m back with FC Dallas.”
Head coach Schellas Hyndman spoke with John about the Blackburn discussions and while failing to get into specifics, acknowledged that the two sides were very close to finalizing something before the Aug. 31 transfer deadline.
“They really thought the deal was almost on the verge of getting completed,” said Hyndman, “but I guess there were a couple items that needed to be sorted out [that] just couldn’t get sorted out, and they decided to go their separate ways.”
The next phase for John — whose contract expires after the 2012 season — and FC Dallas is to restart contract negotiations, something that John and his agent had foregone in the past.
Hyndman stated the team’s desire to re-sign key players in the organization and, having already inked Ugo Ihemelu and Brek Shea to long-term deals, John’s name is near the top of the priority list.
“We want George to be around a long time and we want our American players playing in the MLS,” said Hyndman.
John was more mum on the matter, stating once again, “The timing wasn’t right with Blackburn.”
However, even after missing FC Dallas’ eventful trip to Canada and their comeback win over Sporting Kansas City over the weekend, Hyndman said John jumped right back into the FCD routine after meeting with the team privately and putting his situation to rest.
“It’s been like he’s not been gone,” said Hyndman. “He met with the whole team and he told the team that he was excited to be back and was here to help FC Dallas win championships. ... Now if you’re a team member, what greater words do you want to hear?”
John did not reveal what he said to the team in the private meeting saying, “We are keeping that between the team,” but the third-year player did mention his time with another former MLS player currently plying his trade at Ewood Park.
“I had the opportunity to meet the coach [Steve Kean] with [former D.C. United defender] Ryan Nelsen, the captain, and it was a good time,” John added. “But like I said earlier, just the timing wasn’t right and I’m looking forward to being with FC Dallas right now.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @robertmcasner