Not since Alexi Lalas rushed back from a relegation match near Venice in 1994 to play for the U.S. near the city of Angels World Cup game, has an American defender made quite a stunning news splash as the Gooch, Oguchi Onyewu, did this past week.
Yes, we’re late to the news and commentary here, but for those that missed the episode, Mr. Onyewu is going to Milan, not to play for The Special One, but to rub elbows with Pirlo and maybe Beckham, et al at the San Siro.
While the move might have been financially motivated by A.C. Milan–Gooch came at no transfer price because he was out of contract–it’s an interesting selection by both to say the least.
Gooch’s game, aerial disruption of hopeful crosses and set pieces and man-on-man marking in the box, seems to be best suited for vertical game of the EPL. However, if you recall, Onyewu was not up to the challenge just a few years ago playing with the Tynesiders.
For Milan, while Gooch’s 18-yard box prowess might have excelled in South Africa, the 2nd half of the Brazilian game had him falling asleep on defenders making runs in the seams and failing to cover on the 2nd Brazilian goal. Apparently, Milan’s decision was made after the 1st half.
At Milan, Gooch will be forced to rely a bit less on his physical domination and more on skill. Sure, he may not start for a bit in AC Milan, but remember he’ll be going up against the likes of Pato, Pirlo and Ronaldhino in training on a daily basis.
What the U.S. should get out of this is a more well-rounded central defender that will be forced to contend with and improve his game against niftier strikers and more cohesive offensive units.
Beyond a big win for U.S. soccer and U.S. soccer players–Charlie Davies is rumored headed to La Ligue–the USMNT will get a more experienced player who can better defend against the type of strikers they’ll see in the World Cup 2010.