Oguchi Onyewu

Ellis Park Johannesburg World Cup 2010 Slovenia v USA Match 22 (2-2)18/06/10 Oguchi Onyewu (USA) Photo Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Position: Center Back

Club: AC Milan (Italy)

Club Career

Oguchi Onyewu, ‘Gooch,’ is the most physically imposing defender the US has ever produced.  The 6-4 central defender causes opposing offenses to think twice about sending a cross into the box.  Onyewu has spent most of his career playing in France (Metz) and Belgium (La Louvière and Standard Liege).  At Liege he earned high honors, among them making the league’s Best XI (All-Star Team) on two separate occasions and winning Best Foreign player in 2004-2005.  Unfortunately, his foray into English soccer was not so illustrious.  Loaned to Newcastle United in 2007, the club did not feel he met their standard of play and released him back to Standard Liege after the loan expired.  Gooch did not let that disappointment affect his form in Belgium and was rewarded with a move to Italy’s famed AC Milan when his contract with Liege ended in 2009.  Milan, however, are still trying to determine how Onyewu will fit into their club – he was injured just a few months into the 2009-2010 season and has yet to make a return to the pitch.

National Team History

Since 2005, Onyewu’s breakout year for the National Team, he has been a mainstay in the back four.  His commanding defense has helped the US qualify for two World Cups (2006 and 2010), win the 2005 and 2007 Gold Cups, and see them to a runner-up finish in the 2009 Confederations Cup.  Due to his injury in later 2009, Onyewu has not made an appearance for the US team in 2010.  He should be recovered before the end of the European club season and ready to once more solidify the defense.

World Cup 2010

Fitness concerns heading into the tournament had many doubting Onyewu’s ability to contribute, but during USA’s opening match against England, Onyewu showed few signs of physical frailty. Unfortunately, Gooch’s mental preparedness was not up to par. In USA’s second game, he was culpable on both of Slovenia’s goals; the two mental errors were out of character for the normally dependable Onyewu. He was then substituted out in the 79th minute and failed to make an appearance in either of the next two matches. Now that he’s physically fit, consistent playing time should allow Gooch to quickly return to form.

Official US Soccer Bio

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