Oguchi Onyewu, a defensive force for the U.S. national team whose last of many clubs was the Union, announced his retirement from the field on Monday.
A 36-year-old native of the Washington, D.C., region, Onyewu had a distinguished tenure with the national team, earning 69 caps from 2004 to 2014. The 6-foot-4 centerback played at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and helped the U.S. to a runner-up finish at the 2009 Confederations Cup. In that tournament, he helped the Americans pitch a 2-0 shutout of Spain in the semifinals, ending the then-reigning European champions' 35-game unbeaten streak.
Onyewu scored six goals for the national team, never afraid to use his big frame to rise above opponents on set pieces. And he wasn't afraid to play mind games either, most famously in a 2005 World Cup qualifier against arch-rival Mexico in Columbus. His stare-down of Mexican star striker Jared Borgetti is still a famous piece of national team lore.
In the club game, Onyewu traveled across a wide swath of European countries after playing two years of college soccer at Clemson. Notable stops included England's Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday; Portugal's Sporting Clube of Lisbon; and most famously, Italy's AC Milan. Unfortunately, he only played one game for Milan in 18 months with the team after suffering a knee injury in a 2009 World Cup qualifier.
Onyewu's last European stop was England's Charlton Athletic, which he left at the end of the 2014-15 season. He was off the playing field for a year and a half, but didn't want to give up on the game yet. He tried out with a few teams, including Scotland's Rangers of Glasgow and Major League Soccer's New York City FC, but couldn't secure a deal.
Then, in the early months of 2017, the Union went looking for a veteran centerback to mentor their young defensive corps. Sporting director Earnie Stewart invited Onyewu in, and he and manager Jim Curtin were impressed enough to offer a one-year contract.
Onyewu was expected to just be a backup and teacher, but he ended up playing 22 games. He even scored a goal on a visit to D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Not only was it where he grew up, it was a field where he played so well for the national team.