Gooch out at least six months – could miss World Cup

Its all gone Pete Tong for USMNT: Gooch out 6 months; Photo by Flickion

Its all gone Pete Tong for USMNT: Gooch out 6 months; Photo by Aflickion

And the injury news just keeps getting worse for the US Mens National Team, as a revised and significantly longer layoff of at least six months is now predicted for Oguchi Onyewu. The news was buried in the bottom of the release from the US Soccer Federation announcing a successful operation to repair Onyewu’s ruptured patella tendon. That definitely puts him in jeopardy of missing the World Cup, but if he can get on the training ground a month before the tournament, you have to include him in the sqaud. 

The timeline for his return, should everything go according to plan, would be mid to late April. That means it is extremely unlikely that he would get any game time with Milan to get himself back to full fitness, let alone shake off the rust, before the end of the Italian league season in early May. The only action Onyewu would get before the World Cup begins on June 11 would be in any late friendlies or scrimmages before the team makes camp in South Africa. 

The one position on the field that is the most difficult to step right in and play at a high level is in the center of defense. If a striker misses a scoring chance, you prepare for the next one. If a midfielder struggles with the pace of the game, it hurts more. But one mistake at the wrong time from a central defender and the US could be out of the tournament. You could already see that his lack of playing time in Milan caused his to suffer at least a little–his sloppy give away and foul led to the first Honduras goal, and against Costa Rica he was turned pretty easily for their first goal. 

Beyond the implications for the national team, you have to really feel for Gooch. His great performance at the Confederations Cup caught the eyes of the soccer world and he ended up at global superpower AC Milan – by far the most prestigous club any US player has ever joined. While he was struggling for first team matches, the nature of the crowded fixture lists for the top teams virtually guaranteed a run of games and an opportunity to prove himself on the biggest stages in club soccer.

Coming right on the heels of the horrific accident that all but ruled out of the World Cup emerging star striker Charlie Davies, the prospect of also losing our best defensive player must have Bob Bradley wondering what he’s done to deserve this.  Its going to be an incredibly difficult decision for Bradley if Gooch is fit enough to train with the squad but hasn’t had any games in months. I say take him to South Africa if he can run, but whether he gets on the field…

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