US SoccerUS Soccer

Oguchi Onyewu

Men's National Team
Stories
Overview
National Teams
Professional
Personal

A Hitchhikers Guide to USA-Ghana

The U.S. Men’s National Team will go head to head with Ghana in its first group game on June 16, live on ESPN, WatchESPN and Univision. It’s the third consecutive FIFA World Cup these teams have walked out of the tunnel together and to get ready for Rd. 3, ussoccer.com caught up with some players past and present to reflect on the matches in 2006 and 2010.

MNT vs. Ukraine: Field Level Highlights - March 5, 2014

Field Level Highlights from the U.S. Men's National Team's 2-0 loss to Ukraine on March 5, 2014 in Larnaca, Cyprus at Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium.

Jurgen Klinsmann Q & A: 'The Countdown is on'

The U.S. Men’s National Team continues its preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with a match against Ukraine – FIFA’s highest-ranked team not to qualify for this summer’s tournament. U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called in a squad of primarily European-based players for a final personal evaluation before the provisional roster is announced in May and the final preparation camp ensues shortly thereafter.

Klinsmann sat down with ussoccer.com to address what he and the coaching staff are looking for from the players during and after the match against Ukraine, the core and potential players that make up the current squad, what he expects from a talented Ukraine team and the excitement of feeling the World Cup just around the corner.

ussoccer.com: You haven’t had a chance to call in the European-based players since November. How are you viewing the opportunity this camp presents?

Jurgen Klinsmann: “Having this Ukraine game is a huge opportunity, mainly for our European-based players. You want to give them a chance to show where they are at and what’s going on in their specific situation. It’s great to call in players like Oguchi Onyewu, Will Packwood – his first time to come in – Tim Ream, who is playing consistently well at Bolton, Danny Williams, who has now kind of made his way through at Reading and playing week-in, week-out, and Juan Agudelo, who is now in Holland.

“It’s a huge opportunity for all those guys to prove to us that they are eager and hungry to jump on the train to the World Cup. We will get a good picture of them over those couple of days, and therefore, we left almost all the MLS players back in the United States.”

ussoccer.com: There will be two MLS-based players on the roster, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. What was the thought process behind bringing them?
JK: “This is a huge game. We play Ukraine, which barley missed out on going to Brazil. They had a playoff against France, one of the best teams in the world. So you want to have a very strong team against Ukraine, and as I often mention our team is defined in its spine. The core group of the team is Tim Howard and then Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones in midfield, Clint Dempsey in front of them and then Jozy Altidore up front. These five players build our spine.

“Having Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in for Ukraine is very important to us. Clint has played these two months at Fulham and Michael is coming off preseason camp with Toronto, so for us it’s very important to see both back in the team and putting their stamp on the game.”

ussoccer.com: This is the only game in which you will get to see the European-based players before the provisional roster announcement in May. What messages will be delivering to these players?
JK: “It’s difficult for us coaches to prepare everything for this summer’s World Cup only having this game on March 5 before going into preparation camp. It’s very little time to work with the players. Therefore, for the European-based players, in these three or four days we are together and the game against Ukraine, t’s even more important they have a good showing.”

“The coaching staff is doing a lot of scouting at their club teams. Whether it’s going to visit guys in the Premiership and Championship in England, the Bundesliga, going to France to see Alejandro Bedoya … these opportunities are very crucial to us.

ussoccer.com: You have invited eighteen-year-old Julian Green, who plays at Bayern Munich, to train with the team for two days in Frankfurt. What are you hoping to accomplish with him in his first introduction to the Senior National Team?
JK: “We are thrilled Julian accepted our invitation and comes into these two days in Frankfurt. We want to show him how things work with the United States team and with our environment. We want him to meet the players, to meet the staff, obviously to meet us coaches, and we want him to feel comfortable in our environment. With a lot of players who come through the ranks with dual citizenship, it’s going to be very difficult for those kids to choose which country they want to play for if they have this enormous talent to play at the highest level possible.

“Julian has this talent. Julian is an exceptional talent not only because he’s playing for Bayern Munich, but he’s shown that already over the past two years in the senior team environment there against the “older guys.” We are happy to welcome him for those two days. It’s a big step for him as we try to emotionally connect him to our program, because it’s not only a World Cup coming up this summer. Next year there’s a Gold Cup, then you have an Olympics, then you have Confederations Cup hopefully and soon comes the next World Cup around the corner in Russia. At the same time we have our eyes on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, we also have our eyes on developing the next generation of players, and Julian is a very important part of that.”

ussoccer.com: Ukraine narrowly missed out on going to this summer’s World Cup after losing a UEFA playoff to France. What do you expect from FIFA’s highest-ranked team not to make it to the World Cup?
JK: “I expect a very difficult game. If you look at their team, it’s a very high-quality team that they have. Obviously, they are highly disappointed in not going to Brazil, so when they get the opportunity to play against teams that are going to Brazil they want to beat them, so they want to beat us badly. We need to be prepared for that, and to prove again away from home that we can play with the good teams of the world. It’s going to be a great benchmark for us and a difficult game, but those are the environments that we need to go to in order to mature and improve.”

ussoccer.com: This is a chance for players to make their case for a spot on the World Cup roster. What answers can you get from this game as the World Cup approaches?
JK: “We want to see them preform on the field, but also over four days, we have time to sit down with them for a cup of coffee and discuss their individual situations. We just want the players to understand that every week really counts, every week matters. We want them to pick it up with their club teams. Some players like John Brooks – he sits on the bench right now. Because of injuries he lost his starting spot, and has to fight his way back into the team.

“So, the message to all the players is get a starting spot with your club team, to play week-in, week-out. Add to your schedule, on top of your club’s training, maybe one or two sessions a week on your own in order to get yourself a jump start when we go into World Cup preparation camp because it’s going to be very demanding. The message also is that we are on top of them in terms of scouting them, watching them, knowing exactly what’s going on. We talk to their club coaches. It’s a lot of monitoring work that goes on now over the next two-and-a-half months until we start preparation camp for the World Cup.”

ussoccer.com: You haven’t seen a lot of these players since November and a lot of key guys will be at this camp. Does that make you feel like the World Cup is right around the corner?
JK: “It feels already a little bit like that. We had the January camp where we went down for two weeks to Sao Paulo to try out the infrastructure there. I went myself last week again. Now having the European-based players coming in for the Ukraine game, it gives you the feeling that the countdown is on. We really count every day now to our first game against Ghana in Natalon June 16. It’s a long stretch of four years between World Cups, and once we get close to the tournament, it gets more exciting every day.”

MNT Weekend TV Schedule: Race for the World Cup Roster

Another weekend will see a smattering of U.S. Men’s National Team players take the field across Europe and south of the Rio Grande as well. Only a few matches featuring U.S. players will be broadcast on TV in the States, but the offering of do-or-die FA Cup matches in England and a chance for Puebla to knock off Liga MX leaders Cruz Azul offer an excellent opportunity to scout a handful of players that will also be playing to earn a call up to the U.S. squad for its next friendly on March 5 against Ukraine in Kharkiv.

U.S. Men’s National Team on TV (all times ET) :

SATURDAY
FOX Sports 2
SUNDERLAND-SOUTHAMPTON (live) 7:30 a.m. (FA Cup)
Jozy Altidore

FOX SoccerPlus
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY-CHARLTON ATHLETIC (live) 10 a.m. (FA Cup)
Oguchi Onyewu

beIN SPORTS Play
NICE-NANTES (live) 1:45 p.m. (Ligue 1)
Alejandro Bedoya

Univision
CRUZ AZUL-PUEBLA (live) 6 p.m. (Liga MX)
DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Orozco

SUNDAY
FOX Sports 1
EVERTON-SWANSEA (live) 8:30 a.m. (FA Cup)
Tim Howard

FOX Soccer Plus
SHEFFIELD UNITED-NOTTINGHAM FOREST (live) 10 a.m. (FA Cup)
Eric Lichaj

beIN SPORTS
QPR-READING (delay) 1 p.m. (English League Championship)
Danny Williams

A supremely athletic defender with towering aerial capabilities, Onyewu has been a mainstay in central defense for several years and fought his way back from injury to resume his already accomplished career. A torn patellar tendon in his knee suffered in the final match of World Cup qualifying in 2009 set him on a race to recovery that he completed in time to start two matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. At the club level, Onyewu made one of the biggest moves in U.S. Soccer history when he signed for AC Milan as a free agent in the summer of 2009, though the rehab process made it difficult to crack what was already a star-studded lineup. Onyewu continues to advance his impressive European career, having joined Sporting Lisbon after a loan spell at Eredivisie’s FC Twente at the beginning of 2011.

  • A member of the U.S. team that reached the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final
  • Gamely battled back from a torn patellar tendon in his left knee to start in the first two matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup against England and Slovenia
  • Scored the second goal in the USA’s 2-2 draw on Oct. 9, 2010, against Poland, increasing his career tally to six goals
  • Ever-present on the backline for the USA, he featured in all five Confederations Cup games in 2009 and eight final round World Cup qualifiers before going off injured in the final qualifier against Costa Rica at RFK Stadium on Oct. 14
  • A two-time winner of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, he was part of the championship squads in 2005 and 2007
  • An alumnus of the U.S. Under-17 Residency Program, he helped the U.S. to their best-ever fourth place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship along with Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley
  • Helped Standard Liege of Belgium to two consecutive titles following a 25-year drought.

U.S. National Team – 2011: Made four appearances for the U.S., including the 1-0 win against Honduras on Oct. 8, the U.S.’s first win under Jurgen Klinsmann … A member of of the team that reached the Gold Cup final … 2010: Started the opening group matches of the World Cup against England and Slovenia … Appeared in five straight matches, beginning with the May 25 match against Czech Republic in the Send-Off Series … Scored the second goal in the 2-2 draw on Oct. 9 against Poland, increasing his career tally to six goals … Wore the captain’s armband three days later in the 0-0 draw against Colombia in Chester, Pa. … 2009: Started a career-high 13 games to take his total above the half century mark for his career … Underlined his importance to the team by playing in eight final round World Cup qualifying games and all five Confederations Cup games in South Africa … Nominated for the 2009 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year award … Went down injured in the final 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier with a torn patellar tendon set to keep him out for the first few months of 2010 … 2008: Started all 10 games he featured in during 2008 … Earned Man of the Match honors after scoring against Mexico in February and earned similar plaudits for his performances in the away matches against Spain and Cuba … Scored in the comprehensive 3-0 win against Poland on March 26 in Krakow … Tallied his first goal in World Cup qualifying in the 6-1 win against Cuba on Oct. 11 at RFK Stadium, in front of friends and family from Maryland … All three of his goals came from headers … Consistently forced to mark some of the toughest players in the world, he came up against Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres … 2007: A member of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship squad, he featured in five of the six games for the team … Scored his second career goal for the U.S. when he headed home a DaMarcus Beasley free kick as part of a 4-1 victory against China in June … Earned Man of the Match honors in the 1-0 win against South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Nov. 17 in Johannesburg … Also appeared in the 2-0 victory against Mexico in Phoenix in February … 2006: Onyewu entered the 2006 FIFA World Cup having cemented his position as first choice center back, alongside Eddie Pope … He appeared in all three group games … Controversially called for a foul in the box in the Ghana game, a decision that led to the game-winning penalty … Finished the season with six appearances for the USA, all of them starts in central defense … 2005: Made quite an impression as a newcomer, winning nine caps … Scored his first-ever goal with the U.S. in dramatic fashion, heading home a Landon Donovan free kick in added time to beat Honduras and put the U.S. into the Gold Cup final … Recognized for his play by being voted to the tournament’s best XI … Named Man of the Match in opening round against Canada … Started in four of six Gold Cup matches, including the final … His other five starts were all in World Cup qualifying … On Sept. 3, in his strongest performance of the year, helped the U.S. stifle the Mexican attack and maintain a clean sheet while taking Man of the Match honors as the United States beat Mexico 2-0 to advance to World Cup finals … Took home the award for Best Performance: Player in ussoccer.com’s ‘Best Of’ series with his impressive defensive effort against Jared Borgetti in that Mexico match … 2004: Earned his first cap with the MNT, coming on as a reserve in the 86th minute against Panama at RFK Stadium on Oct. 13 in a 2006 FIFA World Cup semifinal round qualifier … In that game, he came close to getting his first goal when he went up for a corner kick and got a shoulder on the ball, knocking it goal-bound where a Panama defender deflected it into his own net for an own goal … Made his first start in the team’s next qualifier against Jamaica at Columbus Crew Stadium on Nov. 17 … Under-20s: Totaled one goal and three assists in 15 international appearances for the U-20s … Started in all four matches during the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, playing every minute of every match … Notched an assist during the World Youth Championship … Played all 270 minutes at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, notching an assist against Guatemala … Under-17s: Started all five matches he appeared in at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship, playing every minute of every match … Tallied two goals and two assists for the U.S. in New Zealand, including scoring the equalizer in their 2-2 draw with Australia in the semifinals … The USA’s leading goal scorer in the home-and-away series with El Salvador that the U.S. won 10-1 to advance to New Zealand … First Appearance: Oct. 13, 2004, vs. Panama … First Goal: July 21, 2005, vs. Honduras.
Professional – 2011: Played the full 90 minutes in every Portuguese Superliga and Europa League match in which he featured in the first half of the season … Headed home the game-winning goal in the 1-0 win against Nacional on Dec. 11 … Scored a goal in the 3-2 win against Rio Ave on Sept. 19 … Joined Sporting Lisbon on a three-year deal … 2010-11: Did not appear in a competitive match for AC Milan in the first half of 2010-11 season … Went on loan to Dutch side FC Twente, where he made eight appearances, including two 90-minute performances as a left back in his first two Eredivisie matches … 2009-10: Recovery from the patellar tendon injury kept him sidelined for the second half of the 2009-10 campaign … Signed for AC Milan on July 7, 2009, putting pen to paper on a three year contract … Made his competitive debut for Milan coming on as a second half sub during a Sept. 30 UEFA Champions League game against FC Zurich … 2008-09: In a title race that led to a playoff after the teams tied on points and goals scored, Standard and Anderlecht faced off for the league title, with Gooch’s side coming out victorious following a 2-1 aggregate victory … Narrowly missed out on qualification for the Champions League group stage after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Liverpool in extra time … Eliminated Tim Howard and Everton from European play when they dispatched the English side in the first round of the UEFA Cup … Scored against Sampdoria in group play as Liege qualified easily for the final 32 of the competition in 2009 … Ended his Liege career with 139 league appearances and 11 goals … 2007-08: Despite much speculation about where his club soccer would be played, he started the season again at Standard de Liege … The Belgian club enjoyed a blistering start to the season where they went unbeaten through 14 games and finished the season on a similar tear, losing only one game in 34 during the domestic campaign … They also took part in the UEFA Cup for the second year in a row … Hoisted the league trophy at the end of the season, the first Liege title in 25 years and Onyewu’s first trophy in his club career … 2006-07: After half a season at Standard Liege, he was loaned to Newcastle United of the English Premier League … Made his debut against Fulham on Feb. 3 … Went on to feature throughout the second half of the season, making 11 total appearances for Newcastle … New manager Sam Allardyce elected to not make the loan move permanent … He returned to Standard Liege at the beginning of the summer … 2005-06: Helped Standard Liege to an impressive second-place finish, their highest position in 11 seasons … Remained a fixture in the first XI, appearing in the vast majority of matches for which he was available … Anchored a defense that had kept nine clean sheets by the winter break … 2004-05: Narrowly missed qualifying for the 2005-06 UEFA Cup, losing 4-3 on aggregate to Racing Genk on the last match day of the year … An impressive showing forced Liege to exercise their option on the defender in October … He then claimed the starting role and was named one of the best defenders in the country … 2003-04: Was sent back to Metz, but once again the club loaned him to a Belgium club, this time to Standard Liege … Started 24 matches and scored one goal during the season as he impressed from his central defensive position … Was named player of the week in February … 2002-03: Suited up for his first match in a 1-0 victory against Bordeaux in a French League Cup match in January … After a coaching change, he was sent to Belgian side Louviere on loan after the season.
Personal – His given name, Oguchialu, means “God fights for me” … Called “Gooch” by his teammates … Featured in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue in 2009 … Father, Pete, played soccer in Nigeria before moving to the U.S. and attending Howard University … Has two brothers (Uche and Nonye) and two sisters (Chi-Chi and Ogechi).
College – Played two seasons at Clemson … Was named an All-American and nominated for the 2001 Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s highest individual honor … Helped Clemson reach the elite eight of the NCAA soccer tournament.
×