Earlier this week, FC Dallas made it official that Ugo Ihemelu would be wearing the captain’s armband for the 2012 season. Now this is a change that has been speculated for some time, especially with many thinking this will be Daniel Hernandez’s last as a player (Something, by the way, the Tyler native dismissed last month).
While it’s not hard to fault FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman’s logic in naming Ihemelu to wear the armband going forward, some thought he might keep Hernandez as captain for the 2012 season. Maybe the gaffer thought that if he was going to change captains anyway after this season, why not go ahead and pull the trigger on such a move now?
Once a change was decided on, naming Ihemelu as the new captain was a no-brainer. Like Hernandez, Ihemelu was someone who played for Hyndman at SMU and, like his fellow ex-Mustang, Ugo had developed a close relationship with Schellas in his years as a pro.
Ihemelu has said on several occasions that he’s forever indebted to Hyndman, who gave him a shot as a walk-on with the Ponies when no other programs would. The Cedar Hill product thought he was headed to Duke, but when that offer fell through, he had nowhere interested in having him come play college soccer.
That was when Hyndman gave him a chance and Ihemelu ran with it. Sure, it helped that SMU’s starting right back at the time got injured early on and Ugo stepped right in, but no matter the circumstances or how his opportunity came about, Ihemelu deserves a considerable amount of credit for taking full advantage of his opportunities.
Ihemelu has been a solid MLS player, making his debut with the Galaxy in 2005, later playing with the Rapids and most recently with FCD. He’s also someone who the younger players look up to as a true role model as to the heights they can reach if they’re willing to put in the work.
Ugo Ihemelu is someone who has gone far with a nice mix of talent, determination, and perseverance. Not bad for a guy who used to park cars at Dallas Burn games during their short and eventful stay in Southlake. No matter how he got here, he’s now FC Dallas’ captain, a role he’s sure to fill quite well not just for Schellas Hyndman, but for FCD supporters as well.