Oguchi Onyewu wants to keep taking part in. But if he can’t, he’s got big plans.
Oguchi Onyewu doesn’t need to retire, however in case it comes to that this yr, he is positioning himself for a post-soccer future.
He’ll flip 36 in May. He began on the U.S. nationwide crew’s backline within the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. He served with golf equipment in seven international locations, together with Italy, England and Spain, earlier than returning house final yr to be a part of the Philadelphia Union.
He’d like to play one other yr or two and, after beginning 22 occasions final season, he believes he’s got a lot left to provide. His agent is reaching out to MLS groups which may have use for a 6-foot-Four central defender with 16 years of professional expertise.
But Onyewu additionally acknowledges that, even after common managers and coaches across the league work out what they nonetheless want earlier than the March openers, he may be out of alternatives.
“I’d rather not quit now. I’m staying ready,” the Olney, Md., native stated this week. “At the same time, I am always thinking about what is next. I haven’t transitioned, but I know football is not forever. What do you want to do afterward? What’s out there?”
For a number of years, Onyewu has been taking on-line programs with Clemson in pursuit of a level in language and worldwide commerce, with a self-discipline in French. He had attended the college for 2 seasons earlier than turning professional in 2002, signing first in France after which Belgium, the place he loved 5 years with Standard Liege and rocketed into U.S. nationwide crew prominence.
His European journey additionally took him to Newcastle, AC Milan, Twente, Sporting Lisbon, Malaga, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton. With the nationwide crew, he made 69 appearances and scored six targets. His final worldwide match got here in a 2014 pleasant towards Ukraine.
Onyewu has been chipping away at his diploma necessities, usually taking two programs at a time. He stated he’s now labeled as a senior. Eventually, he’ll want to attend courses on the South Carolina campus.
Meantime, Onyewu has additionally launched ONYX Elite, a personal-training enterprise with a location in Richmond and a Reston department affiliated with a health heart. He is the founder and chief govt.
“I am fortunate that I won’t find myself flat on my face” when his soccer profession ends, he stated. “My family really grounded me: As much success as you have in soccer, it’s not forever. Transition will come and you have to be prepared for it.”
And so, about 4 years in the past whereas taking part in in England, he resumed his research. And in 2014 he started to strategize a marketing strategy with longtime good friend Chris Gorres, a coach whose clientele has included Ryan Kerrigan (Washington Redskins), Brandon Guyer (Cleveland Indians), ladies’s soccer standout Ali Krieger and Onyewu himself.
“A lot of athletes get caught in the euphoria of the sport and almost think it’s never going to end until it does, and they say, ‘What do I do now?’ ” Onyewu stated. “Or, as a result of they’ve focused on the game for thus lengthy, ‘What do I like to do outside the sport?’
“You hear the tales of individuals going by despair or going broke. I by no means wished to be that athlete. No one does, however generally you end up in it. Unless you make efforts not to put your self in that state of affairs, it’s what might occur.”
Onyewu, a Sherwood High graduate, owns a house in Bethesda and visits the Richmond workplace periodically. When he’s there, it’s enterprise, each as an govt and athlete; the workers places him by two-a-day exercises so as to keep slot in case an MLS name comes.
Last season, Onyewu was on a one-year contract with a one-year possibility. He began 19 of the primary 23 league matches and, on his birthday, scored on a header towards D.C. United with dozens of household and pals in attendance at RFK Stadium. It was his first look there since rupturing a patellar tendon throughout a U.S. World Cup qualifier 7 ½ years earlier towards Costa Rica.
Over the final 11 matches, nonetheless, he began simply 3 times as Richie Marquez, 25, and rookie Jack Elliott partnered within the center. When the season ended, Philadelphia declined to train Onyewu’s possibility. The Union can also be grooming former Georgetown standout Josh Yaro, 23.
“I thought I performed quite well,” stated Onyewu, who, in accordance to gamers’ affiliation knowledge, earned MLS’s senior base minimal of $65,000. “They went in a different direction.”
After a two-year harm layoff, he believed he had confirmed his worth to each the Union and the remainder of the league, saying “all the doubts should’ve been erased. My physical ability is still there to perform at a high level on a consistent basis.”
His solely harm was a mid-season concussion that didn’t sideline him for any league matches.
Geographically, D.C. United would make sense. He educated with the membership informally at numerous occasions over time, and he and D.C. Coach Ben Olsen had been teammates on the 2006 World Cup squad. But United is about at heart again after buying Frederic Brillant from New York City FC and welcoming again Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare and Jalen Robinson.
Onyewu is amongst a number of former nationwide crew gamers and MLS veterans looking for a house this winter, becoming a member of, amongst others, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, Bobby Boswell, Brad Evans, Charlie Davies and Sean Franklin.
With a Belgian passport, he might discover work within the European decrease tier. After a few years away, Onyewu would favor to keep in MLS.
“People counted me out last year, but I could say, ‘I am still here, I am still playing. Hello! I’m not dead yet.’ Right now, it’s a waiting game.”