FC Dallas announced this morning that the winner of the new contract lottery we mentioned yesterday was Ugo Ihemelu. The Cedar Hill native has had his contract re-upped through 2015. You might remember that Ihemelu was acquired in the controversial trade that sent fan favorite Drew Moor to Colorado, but the SMU product has been fantastic since coming to Dallas in late 2009.
Ihemelu was part of the amazing unbeaten streak last season and subsequent trip to MLS Cup.
Obviously this is great news as another piece to the puzzle has been locked up long term and the main thought that comes to my mind after this signing is what a contrast we see between Dallas, a team that seems to be intent on locking up it's young, local stars long term, and Toronto.
While one team has locked up two young, Texan players until 2015 at what are likely manageable salary cap numbers, the other is signing 30-something European washups at designated player salaries. It's no wonder one team is pushing first place and the other is in the cellar.
Keep reading for the full press release with an interesting quote from Doug Quinn
FRISCO, Texas (June 30, 2011) – FC Dallas has signed former Cedar Hill and SMU standout Ugo Ihemelu to a contract extension through the 2015 season, the team announced today. Per team and league policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed.
“Securing players for our future is integral to our long term success on and off the field,” said FC Dallas President and CEO Doug Quinn. “Brek Shea and Ugo Ihemelu are two fan favorites who we wanted to lock in early for 2012 and beyond. We are committed to keeping a quality team on the field for our fans and we recognize the importance of committing to keeping our best players here in Dallas. We’re not finished either, as we certainly hope to announce others in the near future.”
Ihemelu moved to Dallas with his family when he was in elementary school, attended Cedar Hill High School and was an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection at SMU. He began his professional career with the L.A. Galaxy in 2005, starting 23 games for the Galaxy and contending for top rookie honors in MLS that season. Ihemelu and current FC Dallas teammate Kevin Hartman helped the Galaxy to MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles that year with Ihemelu logging 2,031 minutes on the back line.
The Galaxy traded the speedy defender to Colorado in 2007 where he played a big part in the Rapids defense until FC Dallas acquired him in exchange for Drew Moor on Aug. 31, 2009. Reunited with his college coach Schellas Hyndman, Ihemelu stepped in and made an immediate impact for the Dallas side, helping his hometown club to its first Western Conference Championship and an MLS Cup appearance against his former club in 2010.
“I’m really excited that FC Dallas has been able to sign Ugo through 2015,” said Hyndman. “Ugo has been a fantastic player in the league. He won an MLS Cup when he was at L.A., and since he’s been a member of FC Dallas, we’ve found tremendous success with our program. We wanted to secure Ugo for the next few years.”
Among the best in MLS so far this season, Ihemelu has started 15 games for the Dallas side, recording two goals and one assist, including one game-winning goal.