George John staying healthy

FRISCO, Texas -- For a second straight year, defender George John has remained healthy as FC Dallas approaches the midway point in the MLS season, giving the club a much-needed boost on both ends of the field.

John has yet to miss a game this season, starting in all 18 regular-season games and both U.S. Open Cup matches -- he is currently second on the team in minutes played. John underwent offseason ankle surgery, part of a long list of injury issues since FC Dallas drafted him in 2009. Those include suffering a hamstring injury every season, though John feels he’s on the right track.

“All you can do is stay healthy and play as hard as you can, so that’s what I’ve been concentrating on,” John said. “So far, so good.”

Now that he’s on the field, the 24-year-old is certainly making a solid case as one of the best center backs in the league. According to the MLS Castrol Index -- which tracks every movement made by a player and objectively determines whether it’s a positive or negative impact -- John’s 9.27 rating is second best in MLS, behind New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry.

John is part of an FC Dallas defensive unit that's second in the league with nine clean sheets and conceding 19 goals -- third best in the Western Conference. That gives the club a plus-seven goal differential.

“I think any team that wants to win a championship has to think about defense first,” FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “We’ve embraced that.”

With injuries suffered to team captain Daniel Hernandez and reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira, Hyndman challenged his players to pick up their game by five percent to make up for the losses. John has been working on improving as a goal scorer this season and has made an impact offensively with his 6-foot-3, 203-pound frame in set pieces.

So far, he’s third on the team in the regular season with a career-high two goals on nine shots, five on goal. FC Dallas is 5-1-2 when John attempts a shot and 2-0 when he scores a goal.

“I’m constantly improving and staying healthy,” John said. “It’s always fun to get up and be a threat on set pieces knowing that I have a chance to score.”