FRISCO, Texas – Saturday’s game between FC Dallas and Colorado won’t be Ugo Ihemelu’s first time to face his former club. But it will be his first trip back to Commerce City since the Rapids traded him to FCD for Drew Moor late last summer.
The veteran defender has already faced his former club once with FCD. On October 17, 2009, at Pizza Hut Park, Ihemelu delivered a game-winning goal in the 66th minute as FCD won 2-1 to keep their playoff hopes alive.
But the Dallas area native admits there is something special about going back to Colorado, where he played for nearly three seasons.
“It’s going to be fun first trip back, and getting to play against some friends, in front of some fans I know and in a great stadium. It’s a fun place to play and a fun city,” Ihemelu said Monday.
That tally last October remains his only goal with FCD, and while the starting center back admits it would be nice to find the back of the net against his former club once again, his new club is focused on a much bigger picture.
“I just want us to win,” Ihemelu said. “We’re sitting in a good place right now in the standings and they’re three points behind us. So, if we can create a bigger gap, we’re happy.”
After coaching him as a collegian at SMU and for the last year with FCD, Ihemelu is a player FCD coach Schellas Hyndman knows quite well.
“From the first day Ugo has been here, he’s been tremendous. He’s been very supportive of everything I do,” the FCD manager said. “He’s been an athletic force in the back. He can mark the fastest players in the league and the strongest players. He and George [John] have developed a really good combination and understanding.”
FCD head into this weekend’s match on a seven-game winning streak. Their last loss came on May 20, when they fell to current Western Conference leader Los Angeles, 1-0 in Frisco. Hyndman’s club also hasn’t lost on the road since April 17, when they fell 2-1 to New York in their first trip to Red Bull Arena.
Ihemelu offered a pretty succinct explanation for his club’s current run of success.
“Whenever Schellas was building the team, he wanted a team with character, guys that were willing to fight, fight for each other and really play for the team” he said. “It’s shown this season that this team is full of character. I think it’s going to take us a long way."