Oguchi Onyewu has been doing all he can to get noticed by United States men's national soccer team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The 31-year-old defender now plays for Sheffield Wednesday in order to obtain consistent playing time and prove he belongs on the team headed to Brazil.
Although the game against Ukraine may have started with a few shaky situations for Onyewu, he hasn’t eliminated his chances of making the team.
In an interview with USSoccer.com in early February, Klinsmann spoke about where the team currently stands:
The door is still open until May. It’s about what happens over the next couple of months. We coaches are going to do our homework as well. We are going to put the puzzle together of hopefully 23 players that are totally committed, that are not only giving everything they have, but that also mix well together.
Onyewu has vital experience to bring to the field and into the locker room, which will be important to the team’s success. He has been on the team roster since 2005, although not for every game or tournament. This shows that he is able to play with this group of players and push them toward success.
He is a supremely motivated player, finding a way to play the same position day in and day out to better his chances of reaching the 2014 World Cup.
In regard to the being called up for the Ukraine game, Onyewu told BBC Sport that the match is an important one.
"It is a big step towards the World Cup. After the Ukraine game, there is only one other friendly (against Mexico in April) before the provisional squad is named for the finals. Every landmark is an important one from here on in," he said.
After suffering a serious knee injury in 2009, the central defender told USA Today that he was dogged by the speculation that he might never regain his form.
After playing for Sheffield Wednesday, he has removed some of this doubt.
Onyewu is not assured a spot on the 23-man roster for the World Cup. He still needs to prove to Klinsmann that he’s a necessary fit.
Although he may not be the youngest, most agile player to select, his experience, ball control and ability to win balls in the air are crucial to a back line.
In the same interview with BBC Sport, Onyewu said, “I know my abilities and I am not going to say I will play until I am 40 because that is not the case. When I am done, I will know it but at this point, I am not done.”
He has the motivation to push himself to any lengths necessary to get his name on the team roster. USMNT will play one more game before Klinsmann makes his final decisions on who will take the trip to Brazil.
If Onyewu is given another chance to show his skills and leadership on the field, he could find himself a seat on the plane with his teammates.
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