Oguchi Onyewu, “almost certainly in Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad”

12 Comments

Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp dropped some pretty significant U.S. national team news on Friday, following U.S. international defender Oguchi Onyewu signed a short-term deal with QPR.

Congratulations ‘Gooch’, it seems as though your spot in the USMNT World Cup squad is all but confirmed.

“Jurgen Klinsmann rung me about him,” Redknapp said. “To recommend him and he said he’s almost certainly going to be in his squad for the World Cup, and really was a big fan of his and liked him very much. Klinsmann said Onyewu needs to go and play somewhere, because he wants him for the World Cup squad.”

Okay, well, there you have it guys, straight from the horses mouth… sort of. English Championship side QPR have handed Onyewu a lifeline after he left Sporting Lisbon at the end of last season and has been without a club since. Redknapp revealed his been impressed with Onyewu in training, and will give the UMSNT stalwart, who featured in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, the chance to shine in England’s second-tier.

(MORE: Americans Abroad – Onyewu signs for QPR, Brek Shea wants loan deal)

“He’s done well,” Redknapp continued. “He’s trained well, a fantastic boy with a great attitude and we’ve sorted out a deal, not a long contract… but it’s up to him now to come and do well.”

Onyewu, 31, has bounced around Europe with varying degrees of success in recent years and his chances with the USMNT has been hampered due to injury issues and a lack of playing time with AC Milan, Malaga and Lisbon amongst others. Now he may finally get the chance to shine at Loftus Road, as the R’s challenge for an immediate return to the top flight and are currently sitting second in the Championship with a game against league leaders coming up this weekend.

source: AP
Is Oguchi Onyewu a must for the USA’s 2014 World Cup squad?

If the Washington D.C. native can recapture full-fitness and his best form, no doubt he would be a valuable addition to the USA’s World Cup roster. However with young MLS duo Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez locking up the two central defensive spots as of right now, it seems like Onyewu should need a few good months of action under his belt to displace the likes of Clarence Goodson and Michael Orozco as back up center backs? Onyewu last played for the U.S. in the 2013 Gold Cup on July 13, as he captained the side in a 4-1 win over Cuba before returning to Europe after the group stages to sort out his club situation.

Regardless of whether or not 66-year-old Redknapp misquoted Klinsmann, the QPR manager did reveal how highly the USMNT coach rates the towering defender. And the fact that Klinsmann personally called Redknapp to arrange the deal shows how much faith he has in the defender to perform and be of use to him.

When informed that Onyewu once broke Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ribs in a training ground bust-up a few years ago, Redknapp laughed and suggested he should lengthen the USMNT defenders deal so he didn’t get any punches thrown his way from Gooch.

“Oh my god, I didn’t know that,” Redknapp said. “I’ve got to be honest, you wouldn’t want to have a fight with this fella. He’s a big ‘un…. I think we better give him an extra year on his contract in case he ‘cops the needle with me. * But he could be a heavyweight boxer, he’s about six foot four.”

And if Onyewu can get his huge frame fit and raring to go for Brazil 2014, the USA’s defensive depth will be stronger for it.

*For those not familiar with Redknapp’s cockney terminology, he basically thinks he should offer Onyewu a new deal, otherwise he may end up getting punched like Zlatan. I’m sure you got that… just wanted to double check.

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.

Paulinho has silenced his critics at Barcelona

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Brazil midfielder Paulinho wasn’t greeted with the warmest of welcomes when he arrived in Barcelona.

Fans made it clear they were not too thrilled to see the club spend 40 million euros ($48 million) on a defensive midfielder who was playing in the Chinese league.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

They were expecting a blockbuster signing after Neymar’s departure and ended up getting a player they knew very little about.

Paulinho didn’t have any links to the club’s youth academy and his style apparently didn’t suit the team’s traditional ball-possession game.

A video of Paulinho struggling to juggle the ball during his presentation at Camp Nou Stadium didn’t help, going viral and igniting even more criticism against the player and the club.

But things have changed quickly in favor of the low-key, hard-working Brazilian.

After five Spanish league games, Paulinho has done enough to mollify the critics.

He has two goals, including a late winner against Getafe last weekend, and showed some of the prowess that led him to success in Brazil and made him an indisputable starter for his national team.

He thrived after coming off the bench in his first four matches, and eventually earned a start on Tuesday against Eibar.

“I’m happy with how things have gone for me,” Paulinho said. “I’m glad that I’m playing well, it helps me get adapted to the club. I’m playing alongside some great players and they have all been supporting me a lot.”

The 29-year-old Paulinho has added versatility to the midfield. He is solid as a defensive midfielder but also excels with attacking runs that often surprise defenders.

That’s how he scored the decisive goal in the 2-1 win against Getafe, making a run between defenders and entering the area to fire a firm shot into the far corner. His second goal was a header in a 6-1 rout of Eibar.

“He will end up being a cheap signing,” Brazil teammate and former Barcelona player Dani Alves said.

Paulinho has a lot more presence in the area than some of the team’s other midfielders, including Ivan Rakitic and even Andres Iniesta.

It was this that made Paulinho a key player in the Corinthians team that won Club World Cup in 2012. His success with the Brazilian club prompted a move in 2013 to Tottenham, where he disappointed in his two seasons before moving to Guangzhou Evergrande.

Paulinho, who signed a four-year contract with Barcelona, said he had regained his confidence while playing in China. And his good performances with Brazil also helped.

“He gives us a lot of versatility. He can help us in many different ways,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Barcelona’s next game is on Saturday at Girona. The Catalan club has won its first five Spanish league games and has a two-point lead over second-place Sevilla.

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

Follow Tales Azzoni on http://twitter.com/tazzoni