FCD still looking for a captain

Sala, Hernandez, Ihemelu, Pearce competing to wear armband

As FC Dallas head into the final three weeks of preseason, head coach
Schellas Hyndman is poised to name a 2010 captain fairly soon. Last
year, FCD started the year with Pablo Ricchetti wearing the armband but
after the veteran fell out of favor and was dropped from the first team,
goalkeeper Dario Sala took over the captaincy and finished the year
wearing the band for his club.

Sala is one of the four candidates the FCD coach named Thursday but he
also admitted it will be a difficult decision.

"I could do it today, tomorrow or next week. I think we have some very
good candidates," Hyndman said. "I think we have four pure candidates.
One is Dario Sala because he took over last year and you saw how good
the team did with them. I think another good candidate is Daniel
Hernandez because he's coming in with a lot of experience. He and I
think the same, the players like him because he has got very good
maturity. I think another one is Ugo Ihemelu, another player who is very
successful in the league. He has good character, is a wonderful human
being and the team always comes first for him. I think another good
candidate is Heath Pearce, who has had a very good preseason."

Of the four, Hernandez and Ihemelu have known Hyndman the longest as
both played for him as collegians at Southern Methodist University
before coming to MLS.

"Daniel (Hernandez) and I go back many years with our relationship at
SMU. He's played many years in MLS," the FCD coach said. "He's one of
the players that always stayed in contact with me. Every Christmas, he
was at my house giving me a gift. So there was always a true
relationship there. As you can imagine, he was one of my favorites
coming out of SMU. Coaches aren't supposed to have favorites but I think
what he brings, he brings that relationship from the coach to the
players. He can be that mediator, that in-between."

He has similar sentiment for Ihemelu.

"Ugo is one of the neatest people I've ever been around. There is a
strong history with me at SMU," Hyndman said. "He is a very caring human
being. He's a fierce competitor on the field but he's a very caring
human being. And he has time. If you have a problem, he'll ask you to go
have lunch to talk about it. He's always there for you. He's not doing
it for him."

The FCD coach had wanted to given Hernandez, Ihemelu or Pearce the
captaincy last year, but considering they were each added late in the
year, he decided instead to go with Sala, FCD's longest-tenured player.

"We brought so many people in midseason and it was hard to go to one of
those guys and tell them to forget about the games we had already played
and say now I want them to be a leader," Hyndman said. "They didn't
even know the guys' names. How could they be a leader? It's too
difficult. I didn't want to give those players responsibility and the
guys didn't know them. So it was very easy to tell Dario to take
responsibility because he already knew the players, knew what the issues
were and how he could make it better."

Hernandez will be FCD's starting holding midfielder when they open the
2010 regular season against Houston on March 27. He could do so wearing
the armband, something he would consider a big honor.

"It's always a great honor being captain of any team. I don't think
that's really an issue for me," he said. "I'm going to keep doing my
job, trying to lead the players on and off the field and keep doing what
I've been doing. I think all four of us lead in our own way. Whoever
ends up with the armband, it's a great deal of respect to whichever of
us were to get it. All around the team, I think everybody has a great
deal of respect for each other. The attitude has been a big plus this
year."

Ihemelu was Colorado's captain during his stay with the Rapids and he
also served as Hyndman's captain at SMU during his junior and senior
campaigns.

"Yeah, it would mean a whole lot because it shows the coaches put a lot
of faith in me to help lead the team," he said. "Those other guys are
great leaders too. Daniel (Hernandez), he demands a lot from the
players. He's really taken charge. I'm learning a lot from him about how
to be a good leader. If the opportunity arises, I look forward to
taking it."