U.S. defender Onyewu joins Newcastle on loan
NEWCASTLE, England -- United States defender Oguchi Onyewu joined Newcastle on loan Tuesday in a move that will keep him in the English Premier League for at least the rest of the season.
Onyewu passed a medical test Monday and agreed to leave Belgian team Standard Liege. Newcastle has an option to make the transfer permanent after the season.
"I am not here just for the short-term. I am definitely here for the long-term and to make something special happen," Onyewu said. "I have been following Newcastle for quite some time and saw they were struggling in terms of results, and thought maybe this could possibly be in my future."
The 24-year-old defender leaves the Belgian team after scoring eight goals in 93 games since joining in 2004. He previously played for French team Metz and Belgian side La Louviere.
Onyewu, whose parents are from Nigeria, becomes the 13th American in England's top league.
"My work ethic is very high and I just want to contribute something positive to the team," Onyewu said.
Onyewu made his international debut in October 2004 and has 17 appearances with one goal for the national team. At last year's World Cup in Germany, Onyewu played every minute of the three U.S. games. He was named U.S. soccer athlete of the year in December.
Since the World Cup, Onyewu has been linked with major clubs throughout Europe. He turned down moves to Real Madrid, Middlesbrough and Fulham before accepting the move to Newcastle. He was also reported to have been targeted by Chelsea and Lyon.
Onyewu has returned to Belgium, but Newcastle said the clubs have agreed to terms and a work permit has been secured.
Newcastle has struggled with injuries this season and is now 12th in the Premier League with 30 points. Roeder said he expects the American defender, who is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, to help the team.
"He comes across as an impressive person," Roeder said. "He is certainly physically impressive, which is something I feel we need."
Onyewu said Newcastle has a great history despite its lack of recent titles.
"I know they want to get a title in the coming seasons and I want to be part of something special at this club," Onyewu said. "I know the squad has been injury-stricken. They had a number of injuries early in the season which may have been the cause of some of their poor results. ... But I know the injured players are coming back and hopefully in the second half of the season, we will be able to get better results."
Newcastle resumes play Wednesday against Aston Villa after an 11-day break.