USMNT defender Onyewu returns to field in Carson for first time since injury

CARSON (AP) — Oguchi Onyewu returned Thursday to training with the U.S. national team for the first time since knee surgery Oct. 21.

The AC Milan defender, trying to get back into playing shape ahead of the World Cup, worked out for about 30 minutes as players prepared for next week’s exhibition against El Salvador.

He participated in 5 vs. 2 and possession drills, U.S. team spokesman Michael Kammarman said.

Onyewu, a 27-year-old from Olney, Md., ruptured the patellar tendon in his left knee during the Americans’ final World Cup qualifier, against Costa Rica on Oct. 14. At the time of surgery, the U.S. Soccer Federation medical staff estimated he would be able to resume training in March and be sidelined a total of six months.

Onyewu planned to train with the team again Friday and will remain in California for his
rehabilitation until he is ready to rejoin AC Milan, Kammarman said. The U.S. team — all but one from Major League Soccer — travels to Florida on Sunday for Wednesday’s game. After that, Europe-based players will be added for a March 3 exhibition against the Netherlands in Amsterdam. That is the last match before U.S. coach Bob Bradley selects his 23-man World Cup roster.

Onyewu left Belgium’s Standard Liege to sign with AC Milan last summer but he appeared in just one of the club’s 10 competitive matches this season before getting hurt.

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South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at Cheers!