Oguchi Onyewu has critical career choices ahead

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We know Oguchi Onyewu will probably land on the U.S. Gold Cup team. As we talked about yesterday on the blog, the provisional U.S. roster of defenders, minus the men used so extensively for the recent World Cup qualifiers, tells us so.

There would be a real shortage of center backs minus Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra or both.

So, welcome back into the national team fold, “Gooch.”

What we don’t know is where the big center back will be in the fall. Nor does he, apparently. That came out of a conversation over lunch Onyewu had with the Washington Post’s Steven Goff.

Onyewu remains under contract with Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon for one more season, although another loan to La Liga club Malaga now sounds highly unlikely. What he told Goff about a return to Spain for the 2013-14 season:

I’m not holding my breath. I am looking for other options. I thought I was in good standing [last year] but it turned in the wrong way. I definitely need to put myself in a good place.”

Yes. And soon.

Only, it’s not that easy. It’s tough for guys like Onyewu, who need to find regular playing time but might need to swallow the unpleasant taste of a significant pay cut for that to happen.

Think Eddie Johnson is making as much in Seattle as he did while under contract to Fulham? Of course not. But he’s playing regularly – and he got back into the national team scene. In the big picture, it’s been an amazingly blessed time for Johnson, who came so close to tumbling out of the game entirely.

So, MLS for you, Mr. Onyewu?

“I will never exclude MLS, but I am not ready to leave Europe yet,” he told Goff.

And there you go. As I said, it’s hard to give up the paycheck. And the dream. But …

In and around that settled spot Onyweu occupied for so long at Standard Liege, he has come and gone in England, Italy, Holland, Portugal and Spain.  He has 48 appearances combined at all those places, or about one good season in total.

Maybe it’s time for Onyewu to get more realistic about his choices. He’s 31 years old, after all – which means his options will continue to decline.

Any possible chance Onyewu has of climbing back up the depth chart and getting within striking distance of Brazil depends on his playing time this fall and next spring.

Premier League vet Kenwyne Jones retires at age 33

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It wasn’t the season that Kenwyne Jones had expected in his first Major League Soccer season, but the veteran Trinidad & Tobago striker had himself quite the career.

[ MORE: Miguel Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year ]

Jones, 33, announced his retirement on Monday after boasting an extensive career in England prior to finishing up his playing with Atlanta United.

Atlanta opted not to renew Jones’ contract with the club after scoring twice in 17 appearances this season for the expansion side.

The Trinidadian posted the following message to supporters on Twitter this afternoon.

Jones spent nine seasons in the Premier League, including stints with Southampton, Stoke City and Sunderland.

Additionally, the forward played for Al Jazira from UAE in 2016 before moving on loan to Central in his native Trinidad prior to his arrival in Atlanta’s debut MLS season.

Eibar routs Betis 5-0 to snap 8-game winless streak in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed 10-man Real Betis 5-0 in the Spanish league on Monday, ending an eight-match winless streak in all competitions.

Eibar hadn’t won since Sept. 15. It had lost six of its eight matches since then.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke finish level after Izquierdo’s second-half finish ]

The hosts got on the board with an own goal by Betis defender Jordi Amat just six minutes in, and midfielder Gonzalo Escalante scored with a header near halftime.

Striker Charles Dias scored twice in the second half, and Sergi Enrich closed the scoring in front of less than 5,000 fans at Ipurua Stadium.

“We deserved a victory like this to help us regain our confidence,” Enrich said.

Betis played with 10 men from the 55th as Aissa Mandi was red-carded for the foul that prompted a penalty kick converted by Dias.

“It was difficult to recover after we went a man down and they scored the third goal,” Betis midfielder Joaquin Sanchez said.

Eibar remained 17th in the 20-team standings, just outside the relegation zone.

Betis, winless in three matches, dropped to ninth place.

Barcelona leads by four points over second-place Valencia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Pogba believes Man United can win Premier League if squad stays fit

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There’s no doubt that on paper Manchester United has all the workings of a Premier League contender, and Paul Pogba certainly agrees.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke settle for draw in back-and-forth affair ]

The influential midfielder made his return to the Red Devils lineup this weekend in United’s 4-1 beatdown of Newcastle, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.

With Jose Mourinho’s squad finally getting healthy, Pogba believes that the sky is the limit for his side as they look to chase down league leaders and cross-town rivals Manchester City.

“To win the league we need all our players,” Pogba told MUTV. “When you have one injured here, one injured there, it doesn’t help. It’s always better to have a full team.

“Zlatan’s back and Marcos after a long injury. It was hard for them but they kept believing and worked hard to come back. We need them to win the league and we’re really glad they’re here.”

Pogba’s presence was certainly missed in his absence, and he wasted no time in making an impact upon his return, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Magpies.

The French international also spoke about his struggles last season with several minor injuries, but he’s hoping to remain in his United side for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

“Most of last season I had injuries but small ones. You just have to recover well because the Premier League is different to Italy — it’s more intense and you just have to think about recovery, then you have more games. Otherwise, I just feel good, just to come back.

“I’ve trained very hard to come back fit. The season is really long so we have to be fit — not only me but all the players. To come back, to play again, to see Old Trafford, to see the fans again, to score at Old Trafford on my comeback, I feel blessed. But we had to win — that was the most important thing.”

Red Bulls freestyler shows off dribbling skills… on a treadmill (Video)

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Players from around the world display their skills on social media on a regular basis, but they’re usually on a soccer field or blacktop when they do so.

[ MORE: Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year, beats out Nikolic, Martinez ]

This New York Red Bulls freestyler had a different interpretation of how he’d show off his ball control on Monday.

DJ Diveny (@djdiveny on Twitter) posted this video — below — across his social media platforms today dribbling a soccer ball on a treadmill, while his colleagues appear to introduce cones at random points as obstacles.

In addition to his talents as a freestyler, Diveny is also a youth coach with Student Athlete Coaching & Consulting, based out of New Jersey.

Again… he’s on a treadmill while doing this. Pretty cool stuff.

Watch below.