Photo by ISIphotos.com
By AVI CREDITOR
United States national team centerback Oguchi Onyewu is finally in position to resume getting regular minutes in important matches, and while the opportunity isn't happening at AC Milan, that doesn't mean it can't be beneficial for him and his future.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Onyewu about a number of topics, most notably his loan move to Dutch champion FC Twente, for my weekly piece on SI.com. Give the story a read and feel free to share your thoughts on what Onyewu had to say in the comments section below.
You can read more of Onyewu's comments on a variety of topics, ranging from his fitness level at the World Cup and his overall experience in South Africa, ending his period of silent treatment to the media to the up-and-coming crop of U.S. centerbacks and prospects, here, after the jump:
On his fitness level for the World Cup
"Physically, I felt that I was 100 percent able to compete. I showed that in the (England) game, and I think I shocked a lot of people. A lot of people didn't think I would have been starting that game. That was a big moment in my career in terms of the whole journey. I was happy I was able to take part in that team and contribute and play in the games I did."
On sitting out the Algeria and Ghana games and his whole World Cup experience
"Obviously any player that's part of a squad wants to play every minute of every game. I'm just thankful I was able to participate in the first two. I don't think a lot of people would have anticipated me doing that much seven months prior, and to be able to prove the naysayers wrong was definitely a great feat for my own.
"The eyes that we opened in America and across the world and the spirits we lifted during the whole summer of 2010, all in all the World Cup was a great experience for me."
On if he'd been playing that soon after his injury if not for the World Cup
"It's hard to say. My motivation during my whole rehabilitation process was to be able to perform competitively before the end of my club season, and in retrospect to be eligible to be able to be selected for the World Cup. Those were my two goals throughout my rehab process. If the World Cup wasn't there, maybe I would have reassessed my goals."
On the up-and-coming U.S. centerbacks and crop of prospects
"We have a bright future in U.S. Soccer, and it's good to mentor these kids young so they have an advantage when they're our age on the U.S. national team level. They won't have to try to live up to our standard, they will have already surpassed what we made, and the core continues to grow.
"I think it's important that we do the right thing with the young kids right now. We have a lot of good talent in our youth and right now it's important for the veteran players and coaches to be able to integrate them into the system as best as they can so they can learn but at the same time gain experience. It's not always the best solution to throw a fish into water and see if he can swim automatically. We have to take our time and see and kind of teach them and mentor them to become the future of what we're creating right now."
On the Chile-U.S./Boon-Boo-Ree Dougie
"On the celebration, I'd like to give a shout out to Charlie Davies, who initiated the first dances of any U.S. celebration. Anything that comes after him is because of him."
On this summer's Gold Cup
"I'm looking forward to bringing the title back to America. Everyone on the squad and in the pool is anxious to bring it back to home soil."
On hardly speaking to the media over the last year
"I think the last few months it was more important for me to focus on my sporting side and playing and football rather than talking to the press. After that fell into place I can open up a little more."
On his Dutch
"My Dutch is awful. Everybody on the team speaks English, so there's no issue in terms of communication on that end. Michel (Preud'homme), whenever he does meetings with the team, it's all in English."
On what's after Twente
"I'm not even looking that far ahead. I think when people look too far into the future, they don't see what's right in front of them. Right now I'm just concentrating on the present and doing well at this club. When May or June rolls around, then I can look at my situation and assess it from there."
What do you think of Onyewu's comments? Glad to see him getting regular playing time? Eager to see him back in the national team starting lineup?
Share your thoughts below.