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Onyewu omitted from Sporting Lisbon’s Europa League roster for play-in round

Onyewu (Getty Images)

Oguchi Onyewu's honeymoon period with Sporting Lisbon appears to be over.

After turning in a rebound season and reclaiming his form with the Portuguese power last season, a fit Onyewu was left off the club's UEFA Europa League roster, which was turned in on Thursday. 

With Sporting only submitting a 22-man squad, one player can still be added to the roster up to a day before next Thursday's opening leg of the club's final qualifying playoff round against Danish side Horsens, according to reports out of Portugal. Should Sporting qualify for the group stage, Europa League rules stipulate that a final squad for the tournament can be submitted no later than Sept. 3.

By contrast, the Americans on all of the other teams still involved in Europa League qualifying — Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna) and Josh Gatt (Molde) — were all included on their respective teams' rosters for the upcoming round.

Rumblings of a rocky road for Onyewu started to appear at the beginning of August, when Onyewu wrote a slightly ominous tweet that included, "Just to be clear…I love SCP and am very happy here!! And I want and intend on staying here until the end of my contract." Sporting has a new coach this season, with Domingos Paciencia being replaced by former Sporting forward Ricardo Sa Pinto.

Onyewu, 30, is entering the second year of his three-year pact with Sporting and is coming off a season in which he played 30 games and scored five goals across all competitions.

Considering the emergence of Clarence Goodson and Geoff Cameron as centerback partners for Carlos Bocanegra while Onyewu struggled during his minutes in the May and June friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, this latest development cannot be a good sign for Onyewu's prospects both at the club and on the international level, and it appears that he will have to play his way back into the good graces at Sporting. The team kicks off its regular season on Sunday, facing Vitoria Giumaraes in a road test that may give an even better indicator of where Onyewu currently stands with his club.


What do you think of this development?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Just an FYI: Sa Pinto has been the coach since February after Paciencia left/got fired, so it’s not like Gooch is trying to prove himself to a brand new coach.

  2. I don’t see him being in the starting XI for the national team anymore. That massive knee injury just did too much damage to his “pace” and mobility. Both Goodson and Cameron are on a clear upward trajectory while Gooch’s best years are behind him.

  3. He got injured again near the end of the season.

    He had regained a lot of form after his big injury that ruined his stint at AC Milan, had a comeback season with SCP, then picked up another relatively serious knock which carried over into the last USMNT camp.

  4. Gooch even in his prime and most fit is suited for a pack it in defensive model where size and prowess in the air are the hallmarks. It is when he is asked to play a high line with space between him and the goal that he is woefully exposed. Asking him to face goal and run to catch up to a play…. not going to happen. The type of game the US is trying to employ now is more this… a high line with upfield pressure. It never would have suited him…. but age and bad knees make it even more so. Honestly, I think his time w/ the Nats is over. The fact that Edu showed as well as he did adds depth to the CB pool and makes what value he had as a reserve about nil. That said, there are teams who play a system that could use a big body…. nothing else, he may find a home in MLS. Always liked him, wherever, hope he lands on his feet.

  5. Well, the legs are really the question. Technique, discipline, and distribution don’t get worse with age. The legs do. 🙂

    I hear your point and you’re probably right. But CBs can last a long time. We’ll see.


  6. He just doesn’t have the legs, the technique, and the discipline for international soccer anymore. He has been woeful in all his recent MNT appearances, going all the way back to the knee blowing out before South Africa. If he wasn’t good enough for AC Milan, we can do better and get the younger guys involved at the same time.

    Gooch is also one of our worst distributors out of the back, usually opting for a long ball rather than an incisive one.

    He’s probably still a great presence on the team, but on the pitch he just isn’t international quality anymore. Gooch would literally be my 6th choice CB at this moment.

  7. Gooch. Five versus four.

    He has played in France, Belgium,England, Holland, Portugal. He signed with Milan but I think he did not play in any League games so I would not count that.

    Mikey played in Holland, Germany, England and Italy.

    If Sporting don’t want him I hope he goes somewhere good. These manager changes are killers.

  8. Too bad really. he had a good year with SCP last season. It was unfortunate that he had an Injury to his other knee.

    This has always happened to Americans. The old coach gets fired who wanted the American player, and then the new coach comes in, and decides to put the American player on the bench.

    But there has also been rumblings that Gooch has not been very good in pre-season, and quite frankly he was awful with the National team back in May.

    I think his national team days are done, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him come to MLS. He has never played in the league, so I think he could definitely upgrade a teams Central Defense.

  9. Fitness comes and goes, I’d hazard a guess that he will be back playing for somewhere this season. Given that he really was solid for them last year, this sounds like it’s just a new coach and a bit of a clash.

    If he is healthy and playing, as he was last year, then he is in the pool of center backs for us. Ream and Cameron might still beat him out but that’s far from certain yet. We may actually have some depth at CB come the hex.

  10. I’ve always wondered how good his last season actually was. He scored a few goals, he started, but those two don’t necessarily tell the whole story. I have a hard time finding these games — did anyone watch him play more than a couple times last year? Just curious to get the perspective of a Sporting die-hard.

  11. Sadly and justifiably, Gooch is out of the running for a starting spot on the backline. Boca’s still in the mix for a host of reasons but his time is limited. This is a HUGE year for Ream and Cameron. Those two could be our center backs of the future.

  12. Does Gooch do modeling? I could swear he and Boca has or still do.

    but back to the main point Goodson/Ream/Cameron are all in competition with Boca/Gooch for starting centerback role

  13. Poor Gooch. what exactly is the problem with his club? A few months ago he was being considered for the captaincy role. If he were to leave, I’d love to see him playing in France or Turkey

  14. I don’t think he’s been the same player since the knee injury. He pretty well stunk for the US, got beat by a minor leaguer (Byers) for a soft Antigua goal. If the same form and fitness has carried over to Sporting this may mean they’re underwhelmed and anticipate a loan or transfer or something where they don’t want to tie up his registration in case the purchaser themselves wanted to use him in Europe this season.

  15. This strikes me as odd, considering he had a solid season last term. Have there been rumors that he wanted a transfer that I haven’t heard?


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