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.
The Union announced Wednesday that they have traded defender and Harrisburg, PA, native Keegan Rosenberry to the Colorado Rapids.
According to a press release from the team, the Union will receive up to $400,000 in Allocation Money from the Rapids in exchange for the 25-year-old Rosenberry. The team in 2019 will receive $150,000 in General Allocation Money and $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, along with $100,000 in General Allocation Money in 2020. If Rosenberry meets certain performance metrics next season, the team will receive an additional $100,000 in General Allocation Money in 2020.
Rosenberry, the No. 3 selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, played three seasons for the Union. He was voted into the MLS All-Star Game in 2016 and finished second for Rookie of the Year that season.
Sporting director Ernst Tanner told reporters that he feels the right back position is covered with the 21-year-old Olivier Mbaizo and the 28-year-old Ray Gaddis.
Rosenberry thanked the organization and its fans for their support.
Ryan Bright contributed to this story.
Sporting director Ernst Tanner and the Union made their first big splash of the offseason on Friday by signing 24-year-old Brazilian forward Sergio Santos.
Santos was acquired for a $500,000 transfer fee from Chilean Primera Division club Audax Italiano and was signed using Targeted Allocation Money. The length of the deal was not disclosed.
“Sergio is a young forward with potential and we are pleased to complete his signing,” Tanner said in the team’s official release. “When we met with him in Chile, it became apparent that he is a good fit for our club both as a player and as a person.”
The move is intriguing for multiple reasons. The 6-foot center forward is the first impact addition from new sporting director Ernst Tanner, whose goal for the offseason was to make the Union a more offensive-oriented team with a potential two-forward setup.
Secondly, Santos, who had nine goals in 16 matches for Audex last season, joins a busy Union attack corps that features Cory Burke, C.J. Sapong, David Accam and Fafa Picault. If only two of those five can play at any given time in Tanner’s formation, the team could look to ship someone out.
Attacking pieces Jay Simpson, Fabian Herber and Marcus Epps were not retained for the 2019 season.
“We have observed rapid improvement and development at Audax,” Tanner said, “and believe he is ready for this next step. We next look forward to integrating him as quickly as possible with the team at the start of preseason.”