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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Familiarity with venue, teammates big pluses for Jeremy Hall

By Todd Date

Sometimes a player is caught off guard when learning they've been traded. But that wasn’t the case for Jeremy Hall, a versatile 22-year-old defender/midfielder that FC Dallas acquired from Portland on Friday afternoon for Eric Alexander.

Hall, who is in his third year in MLS after being the ninth overall pick in the 2009 MLS Super Draft by the Red Bulls, had been hearing rumors that his days with the Timbers were numbered and FCD was one of the clubs rumored to be interested in bringing him in, but as Tom Petty once so eloquently put it, the waiting was the hardest part.

“No, that was the team that I was hearing [the most about],” he said by phone on Monday. “I think that was the only one that I knew about. For a while, I went back and forth with my coach and my agent. There was hearsay. It was kind of hectic for me playing wise. I was all over the place. Now that everything’s done, I’m happy about that. I can just play and not have to worry about any of that stuff.”

With John Spencer’s club, he had played in 17 games but admits that towards the end of his time there, it was difficult for him to focus due to all the speculation surrounding him.

“Yeah, it was definitely tough. In the off-season, getting traded to Portland, I was definitely very excited about it. A great soccer city with great fan support, great coaches over there and I was reunited with Rodney [Wallace], who was a close college buddy of mine,” Hall said. “It’s just an awesome spot. I got comfortable in Portland and liked it a lot. Just the past month, hearing about everything was crazy with playing, not playing and getting suspended with cards. For it to finally go through and to finally be here, it’s a huge load off my shoulders.”

So, now Hall comes to Frisco with a clean slate with a new club and, not surprisingly, the move has been a refreshing one for the Maryland product.

“I just want to go out, play and not have to worry about all that stuff. I’m excited to be here. We’ve got a lot of games coming up,” Hall said. “They’ve done well so far in the league, done well in Champions League as well. We’ve got an Open Cup game in Seattle coming up, I’m lucky to be here.”

And while he left one former college teammate behind in Rodney Wallace, he joins another former Terp already with FCD in backup goalkeeper Chris Seitz.

“It’s awesome. In college, everybody was close on that team,” Hall said. “I was real close with Seitz. He left after my freshman year. He’s a great goalkeeper. I still talked to him when he was in the league through texts and what not. Every time we ran into each other while we played, we caught up and talked. Everybody has school pride. We believe that Maryland is the best school in the country. To be with another Terp is something special. We’re all over the league. It’s great to have Seitz here.”

However, Seitz isn’t the only one of his new teammates he already knew before arriving in the Lone Star State on Friday night. He also knew several other members of the Dallas roster after playing with them on the 2010 Generation adidas tour through Spain, a group which was coached by FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman.

“I knew a lot of guys before I got here-Brek [Shea], Bruno [Guarda], Andrew Wiedeman and Seitz, who I played with, a bunch of great guys,” Hall said. “It’s a great group of guys in the locker room, guys I’ve played with and guys I’ve played against. So I’m familiar with a lot of guys here and the coaching staff as well. I got to meet them on the GA [Generation adidas] trip to Madrid. So, it’s a very comfortable place for me.”

He was also part of the Terrapins’ 2008 NCAA championship team that won the title in of all places, at Pizza Hut Park and Jeremy still has fond memories of the venue from three years ago.

“Yeah, it was awesome. My college years were something very special, a great group of guys. I still talk to a lot of them. To have that Final Four, to be part of that with two crazy games [was memorable],” he recalled. [Graham] Zusi hit the free kick winner against St. John’s and scored again vs. North Carolina in the finals. It was awesome. This place is very special for a lot of people who went to Maryland. To be a part of it, of FC Dallas and to now call it home is very special.”

Current Dallas defender Zach Loyd also played in that ’08 final but was on the short end of things for runner-up North Carolina. Hall has yet to rib his new teammate about that game but plans to do so in the near future.

“No, I haven’t yet but I definitely will talk about that with him. Zach’s a great player. I played against him since my freshman year in college. We actually went against each other since I played in the midfield in school and he played in the back,” he said. “He’s a hard competitor and a tough player to play against. He works hard for the whole game. He’s strong, athletic and he works you hard. I’m glad I’m on his team and don’t have to play against him anymore.”

Speaking of Loyd, it’s almost ironic that Jeremy’s Dallas debut came as a substitute for his new teammate when he pulled a hammy in the 24th minute of Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Seattle.

“I wasn’t really expecting to play, much less as many minutes as I did, but Zach [Loyd] went down with a hamstring injury. I started warming up, my number was called and I just kind of got in there,” Hall said.

His first 66 minutes of action with FCD were pretty taxing with temperatures during much of Saturday’s game being well over 100 degrees. Acclimating himself to the Texas heat is now a top priority for this new addition.

“The heat’s obviously a factor. I can definitely say that I was a little tired in the game towards the end Saturday night. I hadn’t trained in four days and had the flight on Friday night,” Hall said. “So my body was definitely a little bit tired. I definitely have to get my fitness level up. We have a lot of games. I think with the games and the training, I’ll definitely be able to get my fitness level up. The heat, I can just get adjusted to that with the training here. I’m definitely not looking to make excuses. I just want to get some games in, train hard and get my fitness levels up.”
And with the prognosis for Loyd unknown as well as the potential departure of center back George John to England, one big question on the minds of Dallas supporters is where would this ex-Terrapin fit the best and provide the most benefit to his new club. Well, that all depends on a number of factors.

“I’ve played everywhere but since I’ve been in the league, I’ve played mostly in the back. [I’ve played] right back a lot, a little bit of left back and center back on a couple of trips. I’m comfortable playing anywhere pretty much,” Hall said. “Since I’ve played a lot of right back and left back in the league, I’d say I’m most comfortable in a league sense playing there but I have no problem playing in the midfield. I played the first some odd games there in Portland and did well. Anywhere the team needs me, that’s where I’m capable of playing.”