FRISCO, Texas - In his 10th year in the FC Dallas/North Texas SC system, midfielder Imanol “Ima” Almaguer has put in the time and effort to be named captain of the USL League One side.
Almaguer joined the club as an 11-year-old and began progressing through the FCD academy and hasn’t looked back since. After signing with NTSC professionally and turning his passion into a career, he still continues to grow and evolve as a player which has led him into his best season yet.
Almaguer is a NTSC veteran and is one of two players who have been on the team since its inaugural season in 2019. He has had the opportunity to grow with the team and observe the changes from season to season.
“At the beginning, the team was made up of almost all players from the FC Dallas Academy, everyone knew each other," the North Texas SC defensive midfielder said. "The second year was really the start of the club expanding. Now we get to bring in players from different areas and teams. Sometimes at the beginning of the season we struggle to get to know each other, but as the season progresses, we have much better chemistry.”
Since scoring his first professional goal in 2019 the Dallas native has continued to improve and take on more responsibility. He has been named captain twice so far this season.
“I think I have really matured as a player since joining NTSC. I’m capable of adapting in any formation, and executing the coach’s plan,” he continued. “I have been on the team long enough to know what the coaches expect. Giving that feedback to the players can be hard but that’s the responsibility being captain comes with. Helping them to have the confidence to play well, win games, and play as a team.”
In his three years on the team, Almaguer has played a variety of positions and is capable of quickly adapting to what his role and team asks of him. He excels wherever he is needed and has played right and left back as well as midfielder and defensive mid. “I prefer staying in the middle, it’s where I can see myself growing the most and making it to the next level but at the end of the day it’s up to the coaches.”
Almaguer has advanced through all the different stages of the club since he joined in 2011. “Ever since I have been here it has been about discipline, valuing your assets, and believing in yourself. You have to keep your head up because there will be obstacles along the way. I believe I have been successful because I have had people guide me through the years.”
The 20-year-old has played 3,534 minutes with NTSC so far, which is only a small fraction of the time he has spent playing the sport over the years since growing up in the club. When asked if stepping onto the pitch felt any different as a professional, he answered:
“I always ask myself that question, there will always be pressure and stress but the stress is good. It always motivates me and makes me think about where I came from, it helps me to prepare mentally and stay focused for the 90 minutes. One of the most important things is to always stay calm and know that everybody has your back. The best thing to know is that no matter what you always have your family, win or lose.”