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A look back at Onyewu’s Milan debut

Oguchi Onyewu (Reuters)

Oguchi Onyewu's AC Milan debut came and went and while it was just 45 minutes in a friendly, that doesn't mean we can't look at the performance and analyze how he did.

Onyewu's performance was a solid one marred by one moment, a beautiful volley finish by young Mexican striker Enrique Esqueda. Onyewu won every ball in the air, completed his passes (including at least one that should have led to a goal), showed some touch and looked very confident for a player who had just one practice session with the team before the match.

But there was that goal.

Was it really his fault. In the end, Esqueda was Onyewu's mark so Onyewu shoulders some blame, but considering where the ball found Esqueda, at the six-yard box, there is certainly a case to be made for Milan goalkeeper Marco Storari needing to intervene. Looking at the replay of the goal you see Onyewu slow up about 12 yards from goal and it's clear that he thought Storari would intercept the cross so when Storari stayed glued to his line it cleared the way for Esqueda.

Should Onyewu have let up? He shouldn't have without knowing what Storari might do, but having only one training session with the team wasn't going to be enough to form that sort of understanding. After spending the better part of six weeks and seven games playing with Tim Howard, who would have absolutely caught that cross, you can understand what Onyewu was thinking.

In the end, it was just 45 minutes that will quickly be forgotten as Onyewu begins to play regularly. Overall though, it wasn't a bad start to Onyewu's Milan career.

What did you think of Onyewu's performance? Looking forward to seeing him vs. Chelsea on Friday? Like his chances of winning a starting role?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Ramon V —

    I’ll assume you didn’t know that Gio has dual Spainish citizenship, making him every bit the Spanish player that Bjoan Krkic is. Your argument is misguided.

    I love that all of you MNT fans troll this page. its a sign of tremendous progress that y’all are the ones having to stretch to make ridiculous arguments w/r/t nationality, young players, etc. I remember what that was like, 10 years ago in the dark ages. You know, before relatively off the radar Americans like Peterlin and Arnoux were signing with Premier League clubs without even arguably cracking the National Team rotation. It feels good to be the dominant team in

    CONCACAF. You probably remember that.

  2. Can’t believe anyone would excuse him not clearing that first goal, even if he did think the keeper should have come off his line that’s no excuse. I’d even go so far as to say he should have cleared the second goal too, he didn’t have a man to mark, and as a towering giant free in the box one would expect him to claim that ball as his own. Funny that he utterly failed in what one would expect to be his strongest area, aerial crosses because his field play looked brilliant. All the times I’ve seen him play I’ve never seen him display such a nice soft touch when it was demanded. He actually looked like he belonged on the field with that team and I hope the coaches notice that because I think the aerial failure was an aberration and it would be a shame if an aberration is what keeps him on the bench. Should be fun to see him match up with Ibrahimovic.

  3. Fulham Pete,

    If it’s a 4th declension noun, scrum would be both singular and plural, but I digress with you.

    I can’t help but think that the big patient hard working highly motivated gooch may have arrived. Great to see. Our backline could actually turn out to be very very tough, and with jermaine and mikey in the middle, we are looking bad a**

  4. Home field advantage makes a great difference. So Bob bradley called in the players that are available to him or players wouldn’t be coming in and out as they are. Calling this US national team a C- team sounds like a straight set up for what happens on Sunday I can hear it now ” US lost because they had a C team” or “Mexico’s A team cant even beat the US D- team.”…

    I agree that Gio and Vela has not done anything for the Senior team but what exactly has adu done so much better then gio.

    Altidore scores a goal against Spain and all of a sudden he is the next ronaldo.

  5. Gooch will start opening day for Milan for 2 reasons.

    1) crosses on free kicks and corner kicks that drop in front of the box are now a waste of time for Milan opponents. Brazil’s goals against the US in the final were all from closer than near and farther than far post crosses. They knew nothing would come to them in the middle.

    2) I still see almost all of this thread about the goal Gooch let in. 90% his fault, I’d say. However, his physical intimidation of his opponents during the scrums is uncoachable. He will be able to brute his way through a LOT of games for Milan this year, just because he’s Mount Onyewu.

  6. Onyewu had a great game, besides that one mistake which can be debated. Those saying he choked and blah blah blah, definitely where not watching the game. He took out a few balls out the danger zone, put to great passes in the late stages, had great footwork in the middle,etc. He played great considering this was his first practice!:)

    The guys over on El Picante (ESPN show at 11:00PM CT)faces droped when they were skooled in regards to Ronaldinho & Leaonardo comments after the game. They though Club America is a MLS team!LOL

    Gio & Vela haven’t done crap in the senior team, come on mex friends, you know this.

    ADU & Jozy have done more for the senior team against top world class teams! Pure fact!

    Mexico on Sunday will face a C-Team USMNT, yet there is no favorite!lol Mexico bringing their 1 1/2 team to the show, is still hilarious to me.:)… Mexico can’t afford to take a C-Team, because they don’t have it, a fact!lol And if they did, they would of been out the gold cup in the group stages!lol

  7. Ives, you making your blog into USA Soccer propganda machine.

    It’s Beckham fault.

    It’s AC Milan GK fault.

    what is next?

  8. Ramon V.
    I respect your opinion on the subject matter but I have to agree with Matt_Mu, I just don’t think Gio is good enough to be wanted by Brazil. Let me make clear I only watch him play on the International level because I don’t really feel the need to try and watch him play on the club level. Well when I seen him play for the A squad during qualifying I thought he was practically invisible and made no impact on the field against CONCACAF competition. However I did see a bit of life from him in one game last round against Canada, but other than that he was nonexistent. So based on what I have seen of him I am 100% sure Brazil does not need or would want him. I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. However he is young and still is not a finished product and has time to be good ditto Adu.
    I think Adu’s problem is the lack of playing time more than anything because he has played very solid before for the A squad like last year against Spain and Argentina, aka top competition.

  9. Matt-Mu-

    With all do respect, I am 100% sure that Brazil would have wanted him more than anything as they saw him and Mexico destroy them in the final 3-0 to win the U-17 WC!

    And it is a well known fact that he was let go of Barca because it was either him (Mexican and “ugly”) according to the Spaniards, or Bojan (Spanish and “pretty”). The pressure he was submitted to when that nonsense started, destroyed him…temporarily!
    I think he’s coming back, and as Ericksson said, I think he will be the most important player for Mexico in a year.
    Also I happen to like Adu, a lot! I think that he’s very underappreciated.
    But comparing him with Giovani is foolish! Different style, and skills! I prefer Giovani!!!

  10. I immediately thought that the keeper should have been off his line, but Gooch won’t be able to use that excuse in the real thing even if it is someone else’s fault. He’s going to have a target on his back.

    That slide tackle and quick-Cruyff was a great little flash of his talent, I hope to see more this coming year.

  11. Ramon,

    Gio, and Gio’s father for that matter, (who do you think wanted him to play for Mexico and not Brazil!) have Mexico where it matters most…IN THEIR HEARTS!!!

    how much of that was because he wouldn’t get a game for Brazil. Its the same as benny feilhaber. Both brazilian but have to play in the us and mexico respectively cause arent good enough to be on the brazilian team.

    only really seen Gio in the U-20 WC a couple years ago. And I thought he was good in that tournament, but i also thought adu was good in that tournament. Now they both can’t get games for good teams. why are we arguing whose better?they both kinda suck, to what degree is debatable.

  12. Cenote, you’ll probably be interested to know that Mexico’s official name is the ESTADOS UNIDOS MEXICANOS!

    Gio, and Gio’s father for that matter, (who do you think wanted him to play for Mexico and not Brazil!) have Mexico where it matters most…IN THEIR HEARTS!!!

    No one claimed Gio for Mexico, he claimed Mexico for himself!

  13. Ramon, Pele says a lot of crap so I wouldn’t pay that any mind. He’s a great player, not a great soccer commentator or prognosticator

  14. Gooch showed a lot last night and he’ll improve obviously as he gets comfortable, but do we really have to pretend that the first goal wasn’t completely on him?? Come on.

    Regardless of whether Storari could have gotten it, he played the guy onside and then didn’t mark him.

  15. ‘Course we’ve always been a nation of immigrants, the Estados Unidos, whilst our brethren south of the border raised holy hell about Zinha and the other naturalized citizens invited to wear the green jersey. Which makes it funny how eager y’all are to claim Gio. Yeah, we have always invited foreigners to play – because anyone can become an American!!!

  16. OGUCHIALU CHIJIOKE ONYEWU, who’s parents are both NIGERIAN,
    and this guy saying Dos Santos ain’t Mexican!!!

    Some people are beyond help!

    And just two word for the mega- tall, muscle-bound fans…

    Fabio Cannavaro, and Carles Puyol!!!

  17. Giovani was born in Monterrey to a Mexican mother and a Brazilian father.

    He’s Mexican even if you don’t want to admit it.

    It’s a shame that a US fan would make such comments when the USMNT is a team that has been highly dependent on foreign players.


    Those are just some names and nowhere near the full list.

    The best players in the history of the sport were neither tall or particularly strong so there goes your argument regarding size and height.

    Stick to baseball and football if you care so much about height and size.

  18. Gooch better than Marquez! Yeah I guess Pele got confused a after Copa America when he said that he thought Rafa was one of the best CF’s in the world! He must have meant ‘Gooch’!

    Te la mamaste!!! Gio is NOT MEXICAN??? He was born in Mexico, raised in Mexico and his mother is Mexican…

    Put the Bud Light down!!!

  19. Oh yeah. They’ll be flying all over the place, dodging tackles and being armpit high on guys winning headers. Can’t wait to see that.

  20. I’ll take my Giovani and Vela any day over someone like Altidore.

    Gio keeps playing like he’s playing and you better believe he will be seeing way more playing time next season!

    As for Vela, with all the Arsenal injuries, and his step by step progression, he will soon be a starting eleven for the Gunners!

    And just wait for JONATHAN DOS SANTOS the 19 year old brother of Giovani, who plays for Barca Atletic! He’s a favorite of Guardiola and he wil probably see action with the first team tomorrow in a friendly against Tottenham, and will be playing for sure against Chivas when Barca plays them at Candlestick!

    Can’t wait for that trio to see action with the MNT!!!

  21. He was born in Mexico, to a Brazilian father playing professionally in Mexico. Moved to Spain when he was 12. Now has dual spanish-citizenship. I loved Thomas Doolet and Earnie Stewart, so I ain’t complaining — just saying.

  22. Cenote, Gio was born in Mexico and although I don’t know where he was raised, I don’t think you could say he’s not Mexican. Agree with everything else you said

  23. America 2-1 AC Milan

    Friendly or no friendly!

    And no one can say that it was played in Mexico, or in front of a pro-America crowd…it was half and half…PERIOD!!!

  24. Marquez has never been half as good as he thinks he is. My point about Vela and Gio is that neither has done anything at the senior level. Anything. And internationally, at least right now, the senior crop of american players is doing better than the Mxican players. Which is reflected in head to head results.

    Size and strength are not everything — but they are SOMETHING. And that SOMETHING is even more important in Europe and internationally. And that is why the current crop of Mexican national players (and let’s face it — gio is not really Mexican — he holds dual-spanish citizenship and has a Brazilian dad) will not pan out. Because they are tiny little specks, too lacking in substance.

    And yes, I prefer Gooch to Marquez. It’s certainly an arguable opinion.

  25. Cenote

    Are you seriously comparing a bunch of kids to Dempsey?

    Roy Keane said that Giovani was too good to play in Colaship.

    How did Eddie Johnson do in the same league?


    I really won’t try to convince you that size and speed aren’t the epitome of success in football because it’s quite obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    As far as Gooch being better than Rafa?

    LOL right.

    I forgot Onyewu has won two champions league medals while also being named the best defender in the French league.

    ohh wait….

  26. Good one guys, as some of you may know, the I and the O are next to each other on the keyboard. Love the comedians in the SBI Mafia.

  27. SHaky and lost? If he was shaky and lost then how the hell does Onyewu clear the ball like 8 times from danger perfectly and then sets-up AC Milan’s 2 late goal-scoring chances in the end. I swear there are alot of Trolls on thses boards.

  28. hhmmmm

    That sound an awful lot like an excuse Ives.

    I watched the replay a few times and I can’t see how you can honestly say it’s “partially” Onyewu’s fault.

    That’s homerism.

    Posted by: Christian | July 23, 2009 at 05:21 PM

    Christian nobody takes your posts seriously.

    That’s realism.

  29. Adu hasn’t done much at the club level.

    Dempsey did more last season than Vela and Gio will ever do in England.

    Onyewu is better than Marquez and will be fine. He had problems last night. That goal was on him, entirely.

    Altidore is not game sharp right now, but he will be a better big-time club player than either Vela or Gio, because he can be. The game is bigger and stronger now — even Messi, who is very short, is incredibly stout. I like Jozy’s future. I think Adu is done and was done before he started.

  30. Cenote:

    I could give two shits what most people around here think of me or my opinions.

    When the US plays well, I always come here and congratulate the fans and teams and did so during the US Confeds Cup run.

    I didn’t bring up Giovani, Vela, Adu or Altidore.

    If you take your fanboy goggles off for a sec, you’d be able to realize that Altidore has the touch of a brick wall. He may be strong and powerful but he ain’t gonna cut it at the highest level if he doesn’t improve his off the ball movement and his first touch.

    Fact of the matter is, Vela and Giovani have done more on the club level than Adu and Altidore.

    It’s really that simple.

    It’s not my fault people around aren’t objective enough to see the faults in their own players.

    The excuse-making for Onyewu’s gaffe last night is hilarious.

    Keep it up.

  31. I think this guy is a good fit for the Italian league. He has a good presence but i still want to see him against world class players.

  32. Christian:

    Everyone is always very, inexplicably, nice to you when you let loose with your bizarre rants. Nevermind that they are knee-jerk defensive and substantively wrong. Nevermind that you are pouring through an AMERICAN soccer site and taking umbrage at pro-AMERICAN fan postings. The thing that urks me is that you still act aggrieved.

    Gio score the first nice goal I’ve seen him score last game. Congrats. He couldn’t hang on at Barca and won’t start for Sp*rs, but he’s a nice “little” Brazilian/Spanish player. Vela might be a nice “little” player if he could stay on the field. The Mexican national team, and club league, is sorely lacking stature, literally and figuratively. That much is clear.

    The difference between Jozy and Gio is obvious. It’s about 6 inches and 35 pounds. You can’t coach size and speed, but you sure need both internationally and at top clubs.

  33. Are ya’ll kidding me? He looked shaky and lost. I’m hoping it is not knowing the teamates, coach and language…but he looked lost and the goal is ABSOLUTELY his fault. He bit inside, got burned and couldn’t recover.

    Now he’s got to go up against Drogba, Anelka, Lampard, Sturrige? Yikes.

    Favali looked awful too. Although this Milan team was missing Pirlo and Pato, its not a very good team. I expect Inter AND Juve to finish ahead of them.

  34. howard would rarely collect that ball. his biggest weakness is the driven swerving ball from the wing. in fairness, it was a great ball, even better than spector’s ball at the confed cup.

    Posted by: Marc | July 23, 2009 at 04:59 PM

    Don’t know about that. Spector’s ball basically went in almost on it’s own, Dempsey barely touched it and it went in. So I’m going to give this one to Spector.

  35. unfortunately, that goal was ALL Onyewu’s fault. it was his mark, his only mark and even if he doesn’t understand italian, it was all his fault. the goalkeeper was not at fault in any way. i keep telling you all that after the transfer window closes, Onyewu will be 4th central defender at best.

  36. Barry, I also thought it was funny when Leonardo said that America was halfway thru their season.

    Dinho was the funniest, he thought the reporter was talking about America the country and proceeded to talk about how much soccer has grown here.


    Whatever happened to Freddy Adu?

    The guy US fans were claiming, at one point, was going to be better than Messi based on some U20 game played years ago?

    At least European clubs are aware of Giovani’s talent and know he will develop into a good player.

    Carlos Vela, at 18, tore up the Spanish Second division even though he only played the first half of that season due to injury.

    8 goals and over 20 assits in half a season.

    Jozy Altidore? Never even played a minute in the Segunda.

    Keep drinkin’ the koolaid you mindless peon.

  37. A goal against is a goal against. Hopefully it won’t be held aganist him, and he will get more opportunities to prove himself.

  38. There isn’t anything to take away from the Gooch’s game last night. It was only his second day with the team.

    He looked completely lost, full of nerves. Great up front.

    I am looking forward to Pirlo and Ronaldinho serving balls into him on free kicks and corner kicks. If he doesn’t score a half-dozen goals off set pieces this year the world may end.

    Also, I need to say I am SO excited for him to be on Milan. To see him in the red/black striped jersey I’ve loved since I was 10 gave me chills.

    Also also:

    Alexi Lalas<Satan

  39. That play by Onyewu at 54:25 where he steals the ball away with a slide tackle at mid-field and then does that quick two-touch Street-soccer move to get by his man and draw the foul… all in one play was WORLD CLASS. Im suprised nobody mentions it, considereing he hasent played in a while and his first game ever with AC Milan.

    Also, that was mad funny..when the second scrum broke out..onyewu walked over pushed his AC boys aside and got in the center of the scrum and then the Scrum scattered!!! LOL! even the ESPN Deportes commentators recognized that and starting laughing. Onyewu is the enforcer on the team already and his AC milan teamates know they thanked him for doing that.

  40. Just when I thought I was out you guys drag me back in. I will bite.

    “Gooch got beat by a young Mexican Striker” – Ives Glarcep (2009)

    Get used to it!



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