On the Record
Here's What They're Saying About Oguchi Onyewu
April 10, 2014
Whether the speculation was intended to raise the player’s stock ahead of a January move, it's impossible to say. However, in his time at Loftus Road Onyewu did not play a single game. He was sent on a free transfer to Sheffield Wednesday on January 11, 2014. “Wished he'd been given a chance,” wrote Hoops fan Macmoish on qprreport.com. “Good luck to him.” When talk of a move to Hillsborough was being mooted, Silverguy commented on Owlstalk on January 10, “68 games in over 6 years? No thanks.” GHS took a different view, “He has played at a very high level. I for one will not write him off by any means. Good luck, hope you are a shrewd signing.” “You can't be a terrible player and play for the clubs he has,” added Bluesteel. “Rusty perhaps but you'd hope he is able to improve our squad.” Elsewhere, on January 11, commenting on an article on ESPNFC.com, Mathew Thompson typed, “I'd love to see him in the MLS. When fit he is a rock as a defender.” Conrad Wilcox agreed—to a point. “He needs to take a pay cut and come home. use the offseason to get fit, and play MLS, at this point i don't even know if he's a consistent starter at home. he should've come home a long time ago.....michael bradley too early, onyewu too late..." Up until joining Sheffield Wednesday, Onyewu had not played 90 minutes at club level for more than a year. Since January, he has had a good run of games—playing 13 times and completing 90 minutes in all but one of his appearances in both the league and FA Cup. The 2006 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year started brightly with Wednesday. He registered an assist in his first league outing on January 18 against Burnley and scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 FA Cup win against Rochdale on January 25. This result ultimately lead to caretaker boss Stuart Gray being handed the role of manager by club owner Milan Mandaric, with Onyewu named Man of the Match by The Guardian’s Andy Wilson. “For the last eight months, all my decisions have been World Cup-based,” Onyewu told SI.com on January 20. “I feel as though in the last three-and-a-half years I’ve had some setbacks with injuries. But I’ve recovered well … Even though I hadn’t played in a long time, I think the few games I played last summer with the national team [at the Gold Cup] showed I can still compete on that level for sure." “For me, it’s about climbing up that hill, and as long as the hill is still there and I can see the top, I’m still up for the climb. The World Cup is the mountain I’m climbing right now.” On January 25, Benjamin C had this to say on soccerbyives.com: “Whether or not he makes the World Cup squad is immaterial for me. I am simply glad he is finding some early success at Wednesday and I hope it continues. Kudos to you, Gooch.” Following a 1-0 league win against Barnsley on February 1 and a run of four games without defeat, Wednesday fan Smithy01 wrote on Owlstalk.co.uk, “Onyewu—quality and will only get better with increased fitness, won just about everything in the air and such a great touch for a defender.” On February 4, when Klinsmann answered a Q&A session on USsoccer.com, he claimed that the door to the World Cup was not shut on Onyewu. He said: “Players like Oguchi Onyewu, Tim Ream, and Danny Williams…. You have to give them a clear message that only if you pick up a rhythm and play week-in, week-out, will you complete one of the big keys in order to make the World Cup roster… “The door is still open until May. It’s about what happens over the next couple of months. We coaches are going to do our homework as well. We are going to put the puzzle together of hopefully 23 players that are totally committed, that are not only giving everything they have, but that also mix well together… There are many different elements that play into the roster and therefore the door remains open until the very last day.” By the time Onyewu was back on the field in the U.S. national team jersey to face the Ukraine on March 5, Sheffield Wednesday—buoyed by a new manager—had lost just two out of eight Championship games with the American on board.
Harry Redknapp says Jurgen Klinsmann called him about Onyewu, adding "almost certainly going to be in his squad for the World Cup" #USMNT— Arlo White (@arlowhite) October 25, 2013
Onyewu will be 32 by the time the World Cup kicks off on June 12. In the same month the defender’s current contract runs out at Sheffield Wednesday. But he appears to be enjoying his football in Yorkshire. As told to the Sheffield Star on March 22: “The last few years, with injuries and being at different clubs, have been difficult for me but I’ve been able to push towards progress and success. A lot of hard work and dedication has been put in, and I think right now the club, myself, and everything else around me is reaping the rewards of that. I’ve played in two World Cups, but every one is like your first. The atmosphere in Brazil is going to be unreal, unforgettable; to be a part of that would be something special.” And, it seems, Sheffield Wednesday fans would like to keep hold of the journeyman defender a little longer. As NeilHayz commented in the Sheffield Star: “Most fans are happy that we've seen some spirit and passion from a team of determined players and Gucci has been a big part of that. Play offs? Very, very unlikely! Gucci and [Glenn] Loovens signing new contracts? Yes please! Hopefully not so unlikely...” Perhaps Onyewu’s interesting career has one chapter left in it yet. Will it include a return to the MLS? How about a third World Cup? Let us know your thoughts below. Laura Greene is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow her on Twitter.
No doubt a good feeling for Oguchi Onyewu to have an assist in a 3-0 win vs QPR, the former team that didn't play him.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) March 18, 2014