Philadelphia Union sign former U.S. Men's national team defender Oguchi Onyewu

Philadelphia Union sign former U.S. Men's national team defender Oguchi Onyewu

The Philadelphia Union announced the signing of former USMNT center back Oguchi Onyewu on Monday afternoon.

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The Philadelphia Union announced the signing of American center back Oguchi Onyewu on Monday afternoon following a training and fitness stint along with a supposed trial for the former Standard Liege man.

The move comes a little over a month before the start of the 2017 Major League Soccer season and makes Onyewu the Union's third official signing of the offseason following moves for left back Giliano Wijnaldum from 2. Bundesliga side, VfL Bochum and forward Jay Simpson from League Two side, Leyton Orient.

Onyewu brings added depth to the Union

"Gooch", as he's affectionately known, becomes the fifth center back on the Union roster along with last year's trio of Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, Joshua Yaro, and Homegrown Player Austin Trusty who signed back in August and spent the 2016 season with the Union's USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel FC where he's expected to be again this year. Tribbett and Yaro split time at right center back last season in their rookie year due to a combination of injury and lack of form.

Onyewu in action against Cuba at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Image Courtesy of George Frey/Getty Images North America
Onyewu in action against Cuba at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup | Source: George Frey - Getty Images North America
 

Onyewu was announced as a Discovery signing, having never played in Major League Soccer, in a career that's seen spells with ten-time Belgian champions, Standard Liege, Newcastle United, Sporting Lisbon, and Malaga among others. The Washington D.C. born centre-back also earned 69 caps for the US Men's National Team from 2004-2014 and was part of three Gold Cup winning squads in 2005 and 2007, and 2009 as well as the 2009 Confederations Cup, the 2011 and 2013 Gold Cup, and the 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads.

Working his way back from injury

Onyewu has undergone an absolute injury nightmare having only played a handful of games since 2013 but seemed to impress the Union staff enough with his fitness and other attributes to earn a contract.  The terms of the contract (length and wage) have not been released as is typical of league policy and it's unclear what sort of role Onyewu is expected to play or whether not he'll be starting come March.

However, the 34-year-old is expected to bring a major veteran presence on and off the field to a youthful Union defense in need of mentorship.  

When asked about the move, Onyewu said, "It's a pleasure to be here I'm excited to start this new journey in my career and my life. I'm happy to be here, the group is great and the organization is fantastic. The vision and the project for the club is phenomenal. You can tell in the locker room there's a sense of friendship and comradery which obviously will translate onto the field this season. I hope my experience and my knowledge of the game can be a tool to propel them and help push better results and maybe they'll learn a thing or two from me, or even they can teach me something."

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