Málaga (Primera Liga)
#5 | Defender
May 13, 1982 (Age: 31)
6' 3", 205 lbs (1.91 m, 93 kg)
Oguchi Onyewu began his professional career in 2002 after signing with French side FC Metz, who had been tracking his progress at Clemson University. Metz originally wanted to sign the defender following a trial in August 2001, but with Onyewu desiring to complete at least his second term at Clemson, he delayed the signing until March 2002.
It wasn't until a full 15 months later that he was able to suit up for the side, due to the team having gone into administration, and not being given clearance by the French Professional League. He finally made his debut in January 2003 in a 1-0 French League Cup win over Bordeaux.
Following a coaching change at Metz, Onyewu soon found himself out of the team's plans and he was loaned to Belgian side La Louvi?re at the end of the 2002/03 season.
It was there that Onyewu finally established himself as a regular player, starting 24 matches and scoring one goal from his central defensive position. He was named player of the week in February 2004.
Despite wishing to keep the youngster, La Louvi?re had to return Onyewu back to Metz following the season, where he was still considered surplus to the side's needs.
He was again shipped off to Belgium, this time to Standard Liege who had just come off an impressive third place showing in the league, guaranteeing the side a lucrative place in the UEFA Cup. In mid October 2004, Liege exercised their option and acquired the defender on a permanent basis.
"Gooch" immediately claimed the starting role, and has continued to win plaudits from around the league, the Belgian press tabbing the 6'3" Onyewu as one of the best central defenders in the country.
During his stay at Liege, he has played in 74 games, of which 73 were starts, and has scored seven goals. He has also gone into the ref's book a total of 17 times - 14 yellow and three red.
In summer 2006, several English club courted the defender, who turned down a move to Middlesbrough in late June. Fulham and Olympique Marseille also were rejected before Onyewu clinched a loan deal to Newcastle near the end of the January 2007 transfer window.
Onyewu made seven starts and four substitute appearances for the Magpies but as his loan expired at the end of the season and the club replaced coach Glen Roeder with Sam Allardyce, Onyewu was informed his stay at St James' Park was over.
It was back to Belgium and Standard Liege for Onyewu where the defender has settled in and become an integral part of the club's defensive efforts. His 2007-2008 season was highlighted by his 100th appearance in Belgium's Jupiler League.
Transfer rumors enveloped Onyewu during the 2008-09 season as his contract neared an end, although he played the full season with Liege.
Available on a free transfer, he surprised the US soccer world by signing with Italian giants AC Milan.
Beginning as a reserve, Onyewu made his debut as a substitute in the Champions League against FC Zurich. His progress was then derailed after a knee injury during national team duty.
Finally healthy for the 2010-11 season, Onyewu found himself out of favor at San Siro. After failing to dress for a single match all fall, he moved to FC Twente during the winter transfer window. Onyewu spent his loan spell in and out of the lineup and returned to Milan after the season concluded.
Out of favor in Milan, Onyewu moved to Sporting CP in the summer of 2011. In Lisbon, Onyewu became a mainstay for the Portuguese giants.
Just one year later, Gooch once again found himself on the move following a shakeup at the club. The defender was loaned to Málaga for the 2012-13 season.
Onyewu made his first international appearance with the US U-17 side on Valentine's Day 1998 against CONCACAF foe Guatemala, and soon after found himself being invited to the inaugural US Residency class at Bradenton, Florida in 1999.
Joining DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey and Landon Donovan, Onyewu was a star performer, scoring 2 goals in 4 appearances in the US' fabled run in the '99 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand, where the side finished fourth.
Onyewu has also made numerous appearances at the U-20 and U-23 level, including all 4 matches in the FIFA U-20 World Youth Championships in 2001, where he first garnered the attention of his eventual club FC Metz.
He made his first appearance with the U.S. National Team on October 13, 2004 coming on as a late sub in the 6-0 World Cup Qualifiying victory over Panama.
Onyewu was an All-Gold Cup selection as the US reclaimed the CONCACAF crown in 2005. He scored his first international goal in dramatic fashion, nodding home the extra time winner in the semifinal against Honduras.
He played seven games as the US swept through World Cup 2006 qualifying and was a stalwart in defense as the US failed to make it out of the group stages in the finals in Germany.
The disappointment of World Cup 2006 was a distant memory as Onyewu helped anchor the U.S. to 2-1 victory over Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup. Onyewu continued to be a mainstay for National Team coach Bob Bradley in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
However, Onyewu suffered a serious knee injury in the final qualifying game of the campaign against Costa Rica.
The defender recovered in time to make the World Cup squad, but his lack of match fitness showed and he was moved to the bench after a shaky performance.