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A few minutes with U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu

Oguchi Onyewu -- Washington native, U.S. central defender, AC Milan employee, very large man -- was back in the area for his older brother's wedding Saturday. The Insider caught up with him at Verizon Center, in the Washington Wizards' NBA training room, of all places, where he demonstrated a workout routine on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, the high-tech contraption that helped him rehab from a ruptured knee tendon in time to play at the World Cup in South Africa.

Several sports organizations, including the Wizards, Manchester United and AC Milan, have implemented training on the machines, which allow athletes recuperating from lower body injuries to recreate the physical mechanics without the physical demands. Gooch pulled on a kayaking skirt of sorts, sealed himself into the air-pressure bubble and waited for his body to float slightly above the treadmill.

After a few minutes on the AlterG, Gooch chatted about his knee, the World Cup, his future with the national team and Coach Bob Bradley. Because of the wedding, he missed Milan's friendlies against Lyon and Arsenal in London and is scheduled to join the club in Detroit on Wednesday ahead of Friday's friendly against Greek club Panathinaikos at the Silverdome.

For more.....

How is your knee?

"There is always going to be days that I feel sore. Even before the surgery, I had tendinitis in the knee, so there would be days that I didn't really feel like putting weight on it was beneficial, so I would always get on [the anti-gravity equipment] and vary the amount of weight that I am putting on my legs or my knees and still get the work out that I want to get in. There is nothing left over from the injury that bothers me. Right now, I am working on getting it ready for the [Serie A] season. I am not focusing on rushing back too soon during the preseason. I want to use this time to handle any loose ends so I can have a successful season injury-free. I don't want to be two weeks in and then one week out. [Milan] wants to take all the necessary steps and be thorough and make sure this knee is going to hold out for the whole season -- not just a month, not just two months, not just three months -- because I am definitely an investment for them. For me personally, I want to get out of this season what I didn't get out of last season."

What did you do when the World Cup ended?

"I got away from everything or anyone that was soccer related. I was in California for a bit, on the West Coast mostly. I didn't do much, just relaxed. For the past five or six years, I haven't had much of a summer to do that. I just focused on doing nothing."

You then reported to Milan. What was their response to seeing you again?

"They congratulated me for making it back for the World Cup and the U.S. team for advancing. I spoke to the medical staff and the team, told them where I thought I was, they concocted a program to get me in shape. I will meet up with the team in Detroit, but since I missed the first week of preseason, I have to catch up a little and then begin with the regular routine with the team."

Do you expect to play in Detroit this weekend?

"Probably not. I am not trying to rush back and play in the game just because it's here in America. I am there just to get ready and get fit, and in essence, this game is just a preseason game and the real deal starts in a few weeks [Aug. 29 vs. Lecce.]"

Do you expect Milan to loan you out this season?

"I have seen the rumors and heard about different opportunities, but I didn't re-sign with the team to leave. I am committed to this team. I didn't get my opportunities last season, so I am going to give myself that fair shot this year."

Are you being called in by the U.S. team for next week's friendly against Brazil?

"I don't know. You'll have to ask Bob Bradley. My focus right now is on getting ready [for Serie A], so if that means staying with Milan is more important, I don't want to do anything that complicates or jeopardizes me playing for Milan this season, especially since [the U.S. team] doesn't have any serious competitions coming up."

FYI: The USSF is tentatively planning to announce the roster in the next couple days.

Reflecting on the World Cup, was there a point where your knee bothered you?

"My leg was fine the whole tournament. At no point did I feel that there was any indication of it giving out."

What was it like for you when Bob told you, heading into the third match at the World Cup, you wouldn't start?

"He didn't tell me. Everyone finds out at the same time. He posted it. That's how I found out."

After starting the first two games, what was your reaction?

"Any player not in the starting 11 is going to be disappointed. I guess 'disappointed' would be the best word. It's a team sport; it's not tennis. There are other players involved. If it's for the better of the team, then it's for the better of the team."

Did you ever ask him why you had been dropped?

"We have never spoken about that. If he wants to, I am readily available. I am not one of those players that is going to dwell on it. It is what it is. I am a professional, I am a man. I don't need to have a pacifier in my mouth."

After being left off the starting list in the group finale, you must have assumed you would not start the round-of-16 match?

"I don't know how to answer that. I was just happy to be at the World Cup after the knee injury. The accomplishment of starting in the first two games was [great]. After that, it didn't work out as well as the beginning for whatever reason. I was happy just to be part of the whole experience."

[The day after the Americans were eliminated, Bradley said of Onyewu's benching: "Gooch has worked incredibly hard to be ready for the World Cup. He is a man of great character. When you watch, sometimes tough decisions are made simply based upon the fact of, at this level, even when you have worked hard, if you haven't had games, where is the player? You balance that with the opponent and the needs in that game, and balance that with your other choices. It would be impossible for Gooch to be at 100 percent given the time that he was out and the fact that there's not been that many games since he got back. Nonetheless, he showed that, even when he is less than 100 percent, he is a player who can help our team. The last two games, playing Carlos (Bocanegra) together with Jay (DeMerit) and using Johnny Bornstein on the left made sense."]

The four-year World Cup cycle is mentally and physically taxing. I assume, being just 28, you want to go through this again.

"I wouldn't say my national team career is over. I don't think I am old. Some guys have enough of it, but I enjoy the team, I enjoy being around the players, the relationships that we have built throughout the years. We'll see what the next cycle holds for us."

Do you feel more responsibility with several older defensive regulars probably leaving the program?

"I didn't realize that I was one of the younger defenders until after the tournament. I was like, 'Oh geez, DeMerit and [Bocanegra] and [Cherundolo]. This might be their last one.' It's in the back of my head. I am just going to keep playing until someone says I can't."

The USSF hasn't decided whether to offer Bradley a new contract. Do players think about those types of things?

"Sure. Coaches play a role in your career. Some coaches have different perspective of different players: One coach might think you're the greatest thing while another might think you are garbage. So I am sure that is in the back of players' minds if he is going to re-sign or not. There are definitely players that like him, definitely players who are out of favor with him, but it's part of the game."

Where do you stand on his possible return?

"I don't take any of my comments, positive or negative, to the public. Bob has done well. We got to the Confederations Cup final, we won the Gold Cup. We'll see what happens. Whatever his future is, I wish him luck, whether that's with U.S. soccer or him going overseas. We have to wait and see what happens."

By Steve Goff  |  August 2, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , Italy , U.S. men's national team  | Tags: AC Milan, Oguchi Oneywu, U.S. national soccer team  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Video: Edgar Castillo's goal for San Luis
Next: FIFA World Cup inspection coming to 5 U.S. sites

Comments

I take no umbrance with anything he said here. Good luck Gooch.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | August 2, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

The Silverdome? I hope someone cleans the cobwebs and carefully dusts the place. Oh yeah, and reminds people how to get there.

Good interview.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | August 2, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I take no umbrance with anything he said here. Good luck Gooch.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | August 2, 2010 3:05 PM


Nonsense! Someone needs to be fired!


;)

Posted by: JkR- | August 2, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Another important eventat the Silverbowl.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | August 2, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

It is so good to see one of your in-depth pieces here, since you do them so well.

I assume that it is easier to get to Gooch than it is to get into the major domos at DC United these days. Those guys have got to have developed a bunker mentality, given all of the stuff they are getting from the fans both in the Insider and other on-line forums.

Since we fans don't really "understand", there really isn't a reason for them to be defensive, is there?

Posted by: seahawkdad | August 2, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

If DC United could play games in an AlterG Anti-Gravity dome, perhaps they would not have sunk to the bottom so quickly.

Posted by: OWNTF | August 2, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Davies was also using that machine.

Posted by: Reignking | August 2, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

FIFA . . listen to FIBA . .

>>
Vuvuzelas will be silenced at the world basketball championships.

Basketball's governing body said Monday the horns that provided the earsplitting buzz at World Cup soccer games will be banned from its tournament. The organizers said vuvuzelas used indoors could damage hearing and make it difficult to communicate on court.

Posted by: delantero | August 2, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I forget whether it was the USA-Turkey friendly or the USA-Australia one before the WC, but after he came off the field there was a shot of him icing down his knee. Even with another week or two to go before the start of the tournament, that one shot told me all I needed to know.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | August 2, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm with JkR. This interview is totally unacceptable--Gooch didn't say one stupid thing. Somebody get him a twitter account and teach him to use it like a teenager.

Andy_Najar Going to salt lame city aha 2:40 PM Jul 29th via Twitter for iPhone

Posted by: hungrypug | August 2, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Ice doesn't mean diddly. Baseball pitchers ice their arms after they come off a few innings. Michael Jordan iced his ankles after every game.

Physically, he was fine, it was the lack of game time that got him . . . too bad Bradley didn't apply the same rules to Rico Clark .

Posted by: delantero | August 2, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

http://blogs.soccernet.com/onthemove/

"20.05 BST Rafael Marquez is set to join old team-mate Thierry Henry when he heads to join New York Red Bulls. "Mexican superstar Rafael Marquez signs with Red Bulls," says the MLS website. Which is over-egging the pudding somewhat."

Posted by: Reignking | August 2, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

"We have never spoken about that. If he wants to, I am readily available. I am not one of those players that is going to dwell on it. It is what it is. I am a professional, I am a man. I don't need to have a pacifier in my mouth."

Somebody email this to Albert Haynesworth.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | August 2, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Did someone say Detroit? Name this movie...

CIA Agent: You can't scare me, you [expletive deleted].
Dr. Klahn: Take him to... Detroit!
CIA Agent: No! No, not Detroit! No! No, please! Anything but that! No! No!

Posted by: IamAM | August 2, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"that one shot told me all I needed to know."

Which was what, exactly? Nothing at all, I assume.

I generally like Bob, which is why I wish I hadn't read his gibberish quoted on the Gooch question. He is either soft-pedaling what he saw from Gooch, or it was a gut decision made out of a combo of fear and a need for CYA to get Bornstein on the field.

Anyway, if USA or Europe don't pan out, he'd be a big step up for a certain MLS club.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | August 2, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Ice? Putting ice in single malt Scotch tells me all I need to know about someone.

Are vuvuzelas a problem in international basketball? I think they've also been banned from international chess tournaments.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | August 2, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Another important eventat the Silverbowl.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | August 2, 2010 3:14 PM
-----------

I'd say this is the most important event the Silverbowl has had in a long, long time. Plus, the "green crack" shown in the picture is pretty good.

Hopefully my fellow California residents wise up and come November vote for a, now, illegal plant to become fully legalized for use here in my state.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | August 2, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Did someone say Detroit? Name this movie...

Kentucky Fried, of course.

"I'm not wearing any pants...film at 11." (last line of the movie!)

Posted by: SportzNut21 | August 2, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

If DC United could play games in an AlterG Anti-Gravity dome, perhaps they would not have sunk to the bottom so quickly.

Posted by: OWNTF

Good point. I was thinking that if I could walk around in a personal-mobile version, I could eat ice-cream 24/7 and it wouldn't matter if I get fat. Ummmmm fat!!!

Posted by: 9Nine9 | August 2, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse


Did someone say Detroit? Name this movie...

CIA Agent: You can't scare me, you [expletive deleted].
Dr. Klahn: Take him to... Detroit!
CIA Agent: No! No, not Detroit! No! No, please! Anything but that! No! No!

Posted by: IamAM

Fistful of Yen?

Posted by: CDRHoek | August 3, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

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