Union

Union sign former U.S. national team defender Oguchi Onyewu

The Union back line just received some much-needed reinforcement.

On Monday, the club announced it has signed former U.S. men’s national team defender Oguchi Onyewu as a discovery signing. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Oguchi is a big, physical presence who brings experience and veteran professionalism, important traits that we believe will be an asset for our group of young defenders,” said Union sporting director Earnie Stewart. “He provides excellent depth at the center back position and we are pleased that we were able to add him to our squad.”

Brought in as a trialist this offseason, both Union manager Jim Curtin and Stewart said Onyewu, who is 6-foot-4 but hasn’t played since 2014-15 with Charlton Athletic, was simply working on his conditioning with the Union. However, the player impressed, not only with his on-the-field actions but with his mentorship.

Prior to bringing in 34-year-old Onyewu, the Union’s defense line featured a center back pool with the average age of 23. That group includes Richie Marquez, Josh Yaro and Ken Tribbett. Because of the Union’s focus on development, Onyewu isn’t expected to be an everyday starter.

“Gooch has come in and trained, his fitness and movement is further along than I anticipated with the layoff that he’s had,” Curtin said. “It’s impressive. He’s done well with our young guys, communicating and leading them.”

A true veteran, Onyewu is a two-time USMNT World Cup player with 69 caps and six goals before being struck down with knee injuries. The hulking defender went right from Clemson to France’s Metz. He played a majority of his time at Belgium’s Standard Liege, where he made 178 appearances. He also made appearances at Newcastle United and AC Milan.