FRISCO, Texas — George John was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
While trying to make a play for his team at the top of the box during last Thursday’s win over New England, the FC Dallas defender took a ball straight in the face, leaving him feeling woozy and disoriented.
“It happened really fast,” John told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I didn’t have time to flinch or anything. I just felt it hit me. I was trying to block the shot and next thing you know, I couldn’t hear anything,”
John was forced to come out of the game and did not return. He was diagnosed with a concussion after undergoing tests on the sideline.
“I think with all the recent studies on concussions, you always want to favor the protection of the play,” FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said after the 1-0 victory. “I thought we did everything right and he will be evaluated by the experts.”
John has undergone those tests this week and is feeling much better. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound center back is optimistic about returning as early as this Saturday, when FC Dallas host Montreal (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“I’m feeling alright," John said. "There is kind of a league-wide protocol when you have a head injury, so we’re working through that. Hopefully, I’ll come back sooner rather than later.”
After a brief stint with West Ham caused him to miss the entire preseason, John has had to put in extra work to get back into a rhythm with FC Dallas. John started 31 games last season, but has been in and out of the starting rotation this year.
After Jair Benítez was suspended one game for throwing an elbow against D.C. United, John was given the opportunity to notch his second start of 2012 against New England last Friday. Before coming off the field, John was a stalwart in the central defense and helped FC Dallas pick up their first shutout if the season.
Fueled by giving up four goals in their previous contest, John said the defense played with a chip on its shoulder and is finally coming together as a unit.
“Obviously, it’s a long season so there is going to be some ups and downs," he said. "Part of a successful team is getting the back line to kind of gel and getting on the same page. I think it’s starting to show that the defense is starting to hit their stride. No matter who’s out there, you got to get the shutout.”
The back line will mostly like be shuffled again this week, but will be boosted by the return of Benítez. If John is unable to go on Saturday, rookie Matt Hedges could make his first pro start, or at least log some decent minutes.