Onyewu is healthy and back in the mix 

October, 3, 2011

To watch Oguchi Onyewu last week with Sporting Lisbon in his new club's 2-1 Europa League victory over Lazio was a chance to both go back in time and foresee a brighter future for the U.S. national team.

With his club down a man in the second half, Onyewu controlled the central defense for Lisbon, using his strength, positioning and grit to withstand a Lazio attack led by German national team star Miroslav Klose. He commanded the defense and brought back memories of the Onyewu who anchored the back for the U.S. run to the Confederations Cup final in 2009.

His run of form and good health comes at an opportune time for the U.S. team, which is seeking answers for what's been a thin back line the past year. Thanks to his call-up for this set of friendlies -- Saturday against Honduras in Miami and Oct. 11 against Ecuador in New York -- Onyewu has his first chance to show new coach Jurgen Klinsmann he can still be one of those answers.

"I'm excited to be back in the fold, you know?" Onyewu told Insider on Friday in his first major interview since his move to Portugal. "It's always an honor, a pleasure, a great accomplishment to be called into any camp. Having been away now for a few camps, obviously it's a different cycle, a different coach, and the importance is a little bit different than in the past."

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.