Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Oguchi Onyewu Gets Mean Again

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

At the beginning of the summer of 2009, Oguchi Onyewu was enjoying a wildly successful soccer career. He was a mainstay in the U.S. Men’s National Team starting defense and he completed a transfer to Italian giants AC Milan.

Things haven’t gone smoothly since then.

He has made only two appearances with Milan—a friendly against Club America in the World Football Challenge and a Champions League game against Zurich, both losses—injured his patellar tendon in a World Cup qualifier and even though he made the World Cup roster he was benched after the first two games.

He still hasn’t been able to find the field for Milan.

However a spark of life has been injected into Onyewu.

He was named captain for the U.S. in an October friendly against Colombia, a testament to his hard work and perseverance during his rehab. More recently, the physicality of Gooch’s game returned.

Onyewu was involved in a scuffle on Milan’s training ground with top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. According to reports, Onyewu was upset by a reckless tackle from the Swede and responding by choking him, followed by punches being thrown.

Club vice president Adriano Galliani told reporters, “I'm happy when I see players pumped up. I'm happier seeing fiery training sessions than boring ones.”

While the violence is not something that should be taken lightly, Onyewu was a force in the U.S. lineup because of his size—at 6’4” he is the tallest field player to play for the National Team—strength and his physicality. He is famous for his takedown and ensuing stare down of Mexico striker Jared Borghetti.

Frustrations may have taken Onyewu to the edge, but he needs that edge. He needed to remind the soccer world that he is a physical force to be reckoned with. Onyewu needs to establish his presence on the pitch and if this fight makes Onyewu more aggressive on the field, than it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

He is the best center back in the U.S.’ player pool. However he hasn’t played like it. It’s time to get that mean streak back in him. Hopefully, the fight means that he isn’t putting up with being a bench warmer anymore, that he’s taking action.

A determined, angry, and physical Gooch means a strong centerpiece to the United States defense.

Video from YouTube, talks about Onyewu's strengths (his strength and physicality) and shows the stare down with Borghetti.

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