Oguchi Onyewu is being given a second chance with the Philadelphia Union. Will he deliver the goods for the club?
It wasn’t that long ago that Oguchi Onyewu was considered to be one of the top American players in the game. A product of the IMG Academy, Onyewu steadily rose through the ranks of U.S. Soccer. A three season stay with Standard Liege and time with the United States Men’s National Team turned the kid from Washington D.C. into a can’t miss prospect.
Yet here we are with Onyewu signing with the Philadelphia Union at the tender age of 34. Onyewu signed with the club as a Discovery Signing although exact terms of the deal have yet to beyond that have been released. Onyewu made 69 appearances for the USMNT and featured for the side at the 2010 World Cup.
So just what happened to Onyewu? After putting in three strong seasons with Liege he signed a three-year deal with AC Milan. Onyewu never really took off with the Italian giants. Matter of fact he never played in actual match for the club. Stays with Twente (2010-2011), Sporting Lisbon (2011-2012), Mallroca (2012-2013), Queens Park Rangers (2013-2014), and Sheffield Wednesday (2013-2014) would be only marginally better with the American center-back struggling to find minutes.
He has been trying over the past few years to find a job here in the United States. Prior to signing with the Union Onyewu had been on trial with the New York Cosmos, NYCFC, and New England Revolution.
But for Onyewu it was the Union that believed he had something left to give. On the surface, the deal is low risk high reward for Philadelphia. With Keegan Rosenberry, Joshua Yaro, Richie Marquez, and Ken Tribbett the club is not exactly hurting for quality defenders. The side did sputter late in the second half last season but their relative inexperience may be the cause of this. If Onyewu can serve as a good hand off of the bench and provide veteran leadership than this should help the young Union side.
For Onyewu this is another chance to prove that he can still produce at a club level. At 34 the chances that the Union will get the same physically imposing center-back that became a staple of the USMNT is highly unlikely. But Onyewu was always possessed above average technical skills as well and never really got the credit for his efforts inside the box. If the years out don’t prove to be too much then perhaps he can turn the twilight of his career into a second act.