FC Dallas inks deal to keep Ugo Ihemelu through 2015 season
FRISCO, Texas – Continuing the team’s trend of resigning key players, FC Dallas signed center back Ugo Ihemelu to a contract extension through 2015, the team announced Thursday morning.
Per team and league policy, the terms of the contract were not released.
“It’s nice to know to that the club believes in me and they want me to be around so it’s really an honor,” Ihemelu told FCDallas.com. “I grew up watching this team play and now to be back here playing for the club, it’s really awesome.”
FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman – Ihemelu’s coach while at SMU – said that plans to keep Ihemelu for the near future had been in the works for some time.
“This is something that we wanted to do – firm up our roster for the future,” said Hyndman. “Ugo’s contract is coming to an end and so he was one of our early priorities to re-sign, as Brek Shea was. We are really happy to get that behind us and to sign Ugo until 2015.”
Ihemelu commands an FC Dallas backline that has eight shutouts on the year, best in MLS. A resident of nearby Cedar Hill, Ihemelu brings a number of characteristics to the team according to his long-time coach.
“He’s a very composed defender, hard to beat one versus one, strong tackler of the ball, strong in the air, good athletic ability,” said Hyndman. “He’s able to run with the best and quickest forwards in the league, good distribution, and a very, very strong player as far as communication and team chemistry.”
Hyndman and Ihemelu’s relationship extend back to their time together at SMU when the team reached the NCAA Championships.
“I’ve been coaching him since he was 18,” said Hyndman. “He's a player that has grown with me, taken the team to the NCAA Championships, and I’ve seen him also grow in the league where he won an MLS Cup with the (Los Angeles) Galaxy, so it’s a lot easier to work with him.”
For Ihemelu it’s an opportunity to continue playing in front of family and friends. The 28-year-old said his four brothers and sisters attend games as often as they can.
The resigning of Ihemelu marks the second Texas native in two months to have received a contract extension. Midfielder Brek Shea signed a contract extension through 2014 in early May.
“I think we are one of the richest areas in the country as far as player development, and that always goes back to the youth coaches that have embraced the sport,” said Hyndman.
After the team’s successes in 2010 and a 9-4-4 record midway through the 2011 season, signing an extension with the club was an easy decision for Ihemelu to make.
“You can see with the club really investing in the Academy that they’re building for the future, and what we’ve done over the last few years – how the team has been performing – they want to keep improving," said Ihemelu. “It’s where I want to be – I want to be a part of that growth and to see FC Dallas become one of the best clubs in MLS.”