WASHINGTON – With his game-winning goal against Toronto FC two weeks ago, D.C. United defender Julius James helped unleash havoc at his former club. Head coach Preki and general manager Mo Johnston were both sacked within days of the loss that nudged TFC further away from a playoff spot.
James is far too polite to admit it, but part of him surely took great satisfaction from making such an impact on the club that traded him to Houston less than a year after drafting him.
“I was just doing my job,” he said this week. “It’s sad to see someone get fired. But at the end of the day, what they say when they trade players is that this is a business.”
This week, James faces his other former club and while the circumstances are different, that same added dose of motivation, however slight, is sure to come into play again.
“Definitely,” said teammate Jed Zaynor, who played against Columbus shortly after the Crew traded him to DC last month. “You want to go up against your team and be like, ‘Ha, look what you’re missing now.’”
James has fond memories of his stint with the Dynamo and will catch up with several members of the team over dinner while they’re in Washington this weekend. His capacity to win over head coach Dominic Kinnear was compromised by a chronic shoulder injury, as well as a thyroid condition that was not reported at the time.
“At the end of the day, I had a medical issue and it lowered my energy level,” revealed James on Friday. “[Kinnear] thought I was unfit – I thought I was unfit, too, but we did some blood tests and found out that I had thyroiditis. That lowers your energy level and I don’t know if that spun them the wrong way or whatever.
“That team wasn’t the right fit for me and it wasn’t God’s plan for me to be there. Now I’m on a team with great history, and another great group of guys. A player always wants to be where he’s wanted. That means a lot.”
The Trinidadian will be tasked with limiting the influence of fleet-footed Dynamo striker Dominic Oduro on Saturday night as he and his back-line mates look to lock down a positive result after letting one slip away in Los Angeles last weekend.
“It’s just a mentality, and it’s just us being aware of the other team’s key players, who usually tend to kick it up a notch later on in the game,” said James. “It’s all about managing the game, it’s all about killing the momentum of the other team. All of us are very conscious of it now.”