In less than one year, Justin Che has gone from FC Dallas Academy product to FC Dallas defender with ambitions of a career in Europe. The German-American dual-national has demonstrated his versatility as a player by playing as a right-back for Los Toros to complement his natural center back skill set.
“As a player, any position you get playing time is something that you can never complain about,” Che said about playing right-back. “Any time you step on the field is a blessing and you should never complain about where you play.”
Known to most as a center-back, Justin has seen his services needed out wide for a Dallas back-line that has struggled with player injuries and consistency. Though, in typical fashion with FC Dallas Academy products, Che started playing elsewhere on the pitch. In his case, playing soccer in a more advanced position emphasizing ball skill and technique.
“I used to play right-wing and forward when I was fifteen,” Che told 3rd Degree. “When I first started playing soccer from four to fifteen I was playing an attacking position. From there I was moved to a center-back because my dad was a professional player and he also played center-back so that was my future role.”
When Che began playing for North Texas Soccer Club in 2020, he spent time playing both as a center-back and right-back where he earned USL League One All Team honors. During his loan spell in Germany with Bayern Munich II, he similarly spent time playing centrally and out wide.
While in Europe, Justin learned from some of the top players and coaches in the world and has come to enjoy both the attacking and defensive aspects of being a full-back.
“I trying to absorb as much information because it’s all about learning,” Che explained when reflecting on his loan spell. “Anywhere I go I want to learn as much as can. Me being so young, the more I know the better for me and my future so I’m open to learning which is better for me and for my position.”
Now, having returned to the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex, Justin Che has been adjusting to the level of competition of Major League Soccer. In a league full of veteran players, varying opposition quality, long travel, and playing in front of fans, Che has grown with each passing game that FC Dallas has played.
“I thought my first couple of starts and games have been pretty good,” Che said of his season so far. “Each game I have focused on something else: maybe ball-recovering, transition, crossing. I try to improve on everything little by little. I feel that I have become more comfortable with the team, more comfortable as a player attacking-wise and defending-wise. I think it can only go up as the season continues.”
While many expect a move back to Europe at the conclusion of the 2021 MLS season or next summer, Justin Che’s focus remains on helping FC Dallas to the best of his abilities. Playing centrally or out wide is no issue for the young defender as Che has expressed his desire to learn and perform for his club to help Dallas climb up the league table.
“I just want to do what is best for the team,” Che stressed. “If it’s making a goal-line clearance defensively or attacking on a transition and getting the ball in the box and giving my team a chance to score, that’s my job and that’s what I will continue to do each and every game.”
Sometimes, a position on the field defines a player and their role and style of play within the team. That isn’t the case for Justin Che as he unselfish character onto the field.
“For me, it’s not about what defines me, it’s what the game needs and what I can provide for the game as a player so my team can have the best chance of winning.”