As first reported by Sam Stejskal of mlssoccer.com, Orlando City has hired former USMNT center back Oguchi Onyewu to serve as the first ever technical director for Orlando City B in USL League One. Orlando City made the announcement official this morning.
The 36-year-old, who retired from playing in September, would be stepping into his first technical role and will report to OCB General Manager Mike Potempa.
The sources said Onyewu will focus on youth development, and that transitioning players from the Orlando academy to OCB will be one of his bigger responsibilities. He will report to OCB GM Mike Potempa, who recently hired Fernando Jose De Argila as the team’s head coach.
OCB’s press release confirmed Stejskal’s report, further clarifying that Onyewu will oversee daily technical operations and compliance, manage player relations and support recruitment efforts for OCB.
“We are delighted to directly involve someone of Oguchi’s stature into our next generation youth movement,” Potempa said in a club press release. “Onyewu has played a vital role within the soccer community in the United States for the past 15 years, both at the club and country level. The experience and immediate professionalism Oguchi will bring to our project are essential traits we believe will only enhance the culture of our team in 2019 and beyond.”
Onyewu’s senior playing career spanned from 2002 to 2018, mainly in Europe. His playing stops include England, Spain, Belgium, and Portugal. He made a name for himself playing with legendary Belgian powerhouse Standard Liege from 2004-2009 and has also played for such clubs as Newcastle United, Sporting CP in Portugal, Sheffield Wednesday, and Charlton Athletic, before finishing his career with the Philadelphia Union. He was part of the USMNT setup from 1999 to 2014, starring with the U.S. U-17s and U-20s before nicely earning 69 caps with the senior USMNT from 2004 to 2014. He competed in the World Cup in both 2006 and 2010 and scored six career goals with the United States.
This is an interesting hire for Orlando City. Onyewu is a well-known player and can help in recruitment efforts, but it’s unknown how much success he’ll have shepherding players from the academy to the USL. It does, however, seem to be a strong statement by Orlando as to how serious the club is taking the restructuring of its development system and would demonstrate a strong commitment to developing players who can make the jump from the development academy to the reserve team.
His experience includes being part of the U.S. Residency Program in Bradenton, FL, and also two seasons of college soccer at Clemson. This seems like a good starting point for Onyewu’s post-playing career and potentially a strong hire for OCB.
After two seasons in the USL’s second division league and a one-year hiatus, OCB will begin play in USL League One beginning in March of 2019.