- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 27, 2007

Oguchi Onyewu of Olney is joining storied French club Olympique Marseille in a transfer move from Belgium club Standard Liege. A final agreement will be made over the weekend according to the Belgium team’s Web site.

The 6-foot-4, 210 pound American World Cup central defender, one of the biggest players ever to don a U.S. jersey, was courted by Real Madrid, Chelsea, Fulham and Newcastle in recent weeks. He started 91 out of 92 games for the Belgium team, scoring eight goals.

At Marseille, Onyewu will be a starter, playing alongside French national team stars Djibril Cisse and Frank Ribery. The team is currently in second place in the French league, 14 points behind Lyon, with a chance of earning Champions League status next season. This will be Onyewu’s second stint in France, where he speaks the language. He signed for FC Metz after two years at Clemson in 2002.

Onyewu, 24 — a star at Sherwood High School — started all three of the U.S. team’s games at the World Cup last summer. Last month he was voted U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year. His parents moved to America to attend Howard University and Onyewu was born in the District. Onyewu’s tight marking of Jared Borgetti against Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match in September 2005 was pivotal in the team winning 2-0 and reaching the 2006 World Cup. It also solidified his place on the U.S. team, where he has played in 17 games and scored one goal.

There are reports that Marseille is poised to be bought by Canadian pharmaceutical investor Jack Kachkar for $129 million.

Solid debut — Bob Bradley opened his tenure as the new coach of the U.S. men’s team with an impressive 3-1 win over Denmark last week. The former D.C. United assistant, who for the moment wears an interim label, not only got the victory, but also took the risk of giving four players their international debut, including United defender Bryan Namoff.

Former German national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann — who turned down the job — was the original choice to replace Bruce Arena as the U.S. men’s soccer coach, not Bradley. However, Bradley’s good start is encouraging news in the American soccer community, where he is well-liked.

Playing substitute Justin Mapp in his second game in a U.S. jersey was an excellent move by Bradley. Mapp, 22, played under Bradley while on the Chicago Fire. Sometimes a player finds confidence under certain coaches and if Mapp’s brilliant assist on the team’s game-winner is evidence, then his future looks bright.

When Mapp first arrived in D.C. in 2002, then-coach Ray Hudson said that Thomas Rongen, then the U.S. U-20 coach, had assured him that Mapp was the next Charlie Cooke. Cooke was a talented winger on the famous 1970 Chelsea team that won the FA Cup.

Sadly Mapp only played 28 minutes under Hudson. The criticism against him was that he skipped on his defensive duties, lacked muscle and confidence. But Mapp’s run at the Denmark defense certainly had a whiff of Cristiano Ronaldo about it, and would have made Cooke, who now runs a soccer academy in Cincinnati, very proud.

The real test for Bradley will come against Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 7. The match is on an international fixture night, so Bradley will call in a number of overseas players. Bradley called five D.C. United players into training camp this week in preparations for the game, including Bobby Boswell, Brian Carroll, Josh Gros, Namoff and Troy Perkins.

Crofton native and former Maryland star Kyle Beckerman, 24, made his U.S. team debut in the game against Denmark.

Notes — Celtic FC will face Major League Soccer’s best players in the All-Star game at the Colorado Rapids’ new stadium in Commerce City, Colo., on July 19. By then, David Beckham could be in an MLS jersey in the game. Maybe the Scottish giants will put up a better fight than the Celtic roster that was hammered 4-0 by D.C. United last July. In 2006, the MLS All-Stars downed Chelsea 1-0. …

Another American with deep pockets is seeking to buy an English Premier League club. George Gillett has made a bid to buy Liverpool, which is valued at up to $320 million. Gillett owns the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. …

A group in Dubai also was in the running to buy the Reds but the deal has stalled, opening an opportunity for Gillett to follow in the footsteps of American Randy Lerner, who owns Aston Villa, and Malcolm Glazer, who runs Manchester United. …

D.C. United will play its third and final group game in the SuperLiga against the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium in Houston on Aug. 1. The team begins preseason training at RFK’s auxiliary field on Monday. …

D.C. United fourth round SuperDraft selection, goalkeeper Luis Robles from the University of Portland, signed with FC Kaiserslautern of the second division of Germany’s Bundesliga.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide