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.
“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.
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.