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Friday, August 26, 2011
Looking at how other recent FCD expats have fared abroad

By Todd Date

While it isn’t yet 100% official, FC Dallas fans have finally accepted the harsh reality that center back George John has indeed played his final game for the reigning Western Conference champions. John’s transfer to Blackburn of the English Premier League has yet to be finalized but it looks like that could happen any day now, pending the results of his medical exam. This isn’t uncharted territory for FCD as in recent history, there have been several other players go directly from playing in Frisco to across the pond. Here’s a look at those players and how they fared abroad.

Kenny Cooper

With FCD:      2006-2009       40 goals in 90 games
Since then:      2009-2011       1860 Munich (German Second Division)       2 goals in 12 games
2010                Plymouth Argyle (England Second Div.)*     0 goals in 7 games
Now:               Portland          4 goals in 25 games

What Happened: Cooper went from being a fan favorite and an MLS All-Star with FCD to head to Germany’s second division in summer 2009. He did score in his debut for 1860 but it was all downhill from there. Besides being injured, he had only one more goal in his next 11 appearances for that club. In 2010, he was loaned to English second-division side Plymouth Argyle but failed to score in his seven appearances with them.

He signed with the expansion Portland Timbers of MLS during the off-season but looks like a shell of the player he was during his first stint in the league. Timbers head coach John Spencer has made it no secret that he’s shopping Cooper but so far, there haven’t been any takers. Hindsight is always 20/20 but he would have been better served putting off heading to Europe for a year or two or maybe never going at all because he’s not the same player he was when he was scoring with regularity in his hometown of Dallas.

Chris Gbandi

With FCD:      2002-2007       3 goals in 111 games, 2006 FCD Defender of the year
Since then:      2008-2009       FK Haugesund (Norway)       5 goals in 37 games
2010                Miami FC (USL)                     0 goals in 19 games
Now:               Working at UConn as Asst. Director of Soccer Adminstration

What Happened: Several infamous red cards aside, Gbandi was a solid defender during his stay in Dallas. He then went over to Norway for two seasons and performed pretty well over there. The Houston native returned stateside in 2010 and played for Miami FC. He has since hung up his spikes and returned to his alma mater, UConn, as their Assistant Director of Soccer Adminstration. Gbandi’s move to Norway looks like it was well-timed and all things considered, it went pretty well for him over there.

Clarence Goodson

With FCD:      2004-2007       3 goals in 74 games
Since then:      2008-2010       IK Start (Norway)                  10 goals in 69 games
2011                Brondby (Denmark)                2 goals in 13 games

What Happened: Goodson showed flashes of being a decent defender with FCD but the book on him with the opposition was that if you could get under his skin a little bit, he would fold. Still, for the most part, he was a fairly consistent center back during his time in Frisco but when he headed to Norway in 2008 after San Jose took him in the MLS Expansion Draft, there were still some who doubted if he could handle playing abroad.

“Snacks” has done well since venturing across the pond. Not only has he played well for his club, but he has also seen his star rise on the US national team front. Goodson was a member of the US team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He’s now in Denmark and having a solid season but remains on the radar for a number of clubs looking to bolster their back line. His move abroad came at a perfect time and it’s a decision that has definitely paid huge dividends on a number of fronts.

Juan Toja

With FCD:      2007-2008       8 goals in 45 games                 2008 MLS All-Star
Since then:      2008-2010       Steua Bucuresti (Romania)     3 goals in 51 games
2011                Aris FC (Greece)                     0 goals in 36 games

What Happened:  Toja took FCD by storm when he joined the team in 2007 under Steve Morrow but he really caught fire in 2008, when he was an MLS All-Star. Some look back on his time with nothing but happy thoughts but he clearly mailed it in after the 2008 MLS All-Star Game, which led current Dallas gaffer Schellas Hyndman to effectively want him out of town as quickly as possible.

It’s hard to blame him for wanting to head to Europe but the way it went down left a bad taste in the mouths of some who follow FCD. And to be honest, the results during his time in Romania and now in Greece have been mixed at best. For a guy who has a reputation as an offensive player, he sure hasn’t scored many goals since heading abroad. Maybe another year or so in MLS would have served him well but then again, maybe not.