COMMERCE CITY, CO - OCTOBER 01: Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman #1 of the FC Dallas defends the goal as Ugo Ihemelu #3 of the FC Dallas defends against Omar Cummings #14 of the Colorado Rapids as he tries to redirect the ball at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on October 1, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
I caught up with new FC Dallas Captain Ugo Ihemelu on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a few different topics including the captaincy, George John's return and the problems Blas Perez poses to opposing defenses.
Thoughts on being captain
It’s an honor that Schellas has put that much trust in me. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but one that I’m up for. Hopefully it’s going to bring more responsibility on my part but I’m up for it.
What has Daniel Hernandez told you, if anything, about being captain?
Whenever I’ve had any questions, he’s the guy I’ve gone to. He’s given me a hard time about giving speeches because I’m definitely not a public speaker, I failed that class and missed days when it was time to give the speeches. He’s been huge, he’s definitely made the transition a lot easier.
When you look at this team in 2012, the starting XI is probably better than the team that went to MLS Cup, do you feel like this team has the potential to go all the way?
Yeah, I think we have a lot of potential, definitely. Every year you’re going to need some luck, last year we had no luck, David got injured, we had a lot of games, fatigue definitely set in. In every competition in every sport you need some luck in there, this league is very very tough. You just never know what’s going to happen every game you just have to go out, play your best and hope the ball bounces your way.
You’ve got one of your good friends back, George John, how are you feeling about that?
It’s good, it’s good to have him back. I kept in contact with him the whole time he was in England just checking up with him and making sure he wasn’t going crazy over there. He’s a great guy first and foremost, he’s great for our locker room and he’s a great soccer player. He’s just going to make the team that much stronger and the back line is just going to be that much more competitive, guys are going to be fighting for position every training.
Maybe that’s something you didn’t have last year…
No, we didn’t have that, that depth at center back. We really didn’t, George and I played a lot of games and then when he left we made some changes, AJ played back there, Brek played back there, but now we have guys that really can play that position. Even Matt Hedges, Hernan, they’re all really good center backs and they bring their own individual things that make the team better. I think our backline should be really strong this year and hopefully David comes back like he was in the past, he’s showed glimpses of it when we played in Orlando.
What have you seen out of Blas Perez, he’s a guy we’ve been looking for, for awhile…
Blas is a different type of forward to be honest. I remember the first training, he’s a really intelligent guy on and off the field. He thinks ahead of the game, in Orlando him and Brek played together up top and they combined really well together so I think with David back, him and Brek together, they could be very dangerous in attack.
Defending against Blas, I think when you’re watching the game you don’t necessarily notice everything he does, as a defender can you talk about the little things he does that the regular fan maybe doesn’t notice.
He’s always ahead of the game, whenever a ball is coming into him he has the next pass picked out. I’m telling you, always. He has a great first touch, he combines really well with whoever he’s playing with. As a defender, you can play him individually and he may not be the quickest or strongest guy but mentally he’s very quick so you need help and team defending to deal with a player like him because he’ll get assists and he’ll find a way to score goals as well.