Oguchi Onyewu Brawls With AC Milan Teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Practice
Milan CEO Adriano Galliani told SkySport24 TV that the brawl was "very lively. It can happen when there is a rather rough tackle." He also said Onyewu and Ibrahimović, the Swedish international who was acquired from Barcelona in August, had resolved their differences.
"The incident is closed," Galliani said.
Ibrahimović stands 6-5 and holds a black belt in taekwondo. Onyewu is 6-4, 210 pounds.
According to an internet translation of an article in La Gazzetta dello Sport, Ibrahimović infuriated Onyewu when he slid into the "giant American." Onyewu "did not take it well," the Gazzetta said, and grabbed the Swede by the throat after getting up off the ground.
The paper surmised that Onyewu reacted so strongly because of concern over his rehabilitated left knee.
It took about 10 teammates to separate the pair in front of about 30 spectators at the club's Milanello training ground. Coach Massimiliano Allegri suspended the rest of practice.
The incident adds additional drama to what has been a very tough year for the Washington, D.C. native. He worked feverishly to be ready in time for the World Cup, before which he pledged to play for Milan for free in 2010-11 in gratitude for the club's support during his rehab.
He made Bob Bradley's team and started against England and Slovenia, but appeared shaky in the second game and was benched for the rest of the tournament.
Bradley called the defender in for the October friendlies against Poland and Colombia, amid protests from some that Onyewu didn't deserve the opportunity because he hadn't played a game in four months.
Onyewu scored a goal in the 2-2 draw with Poland and captained the side during the 0-0 tie with Colombia, although his refusal to speak to, or even acknowledge, the press (especially as captain) raised questions about his state of mind.
His play with the U.S. didn't do much for his situation at Milan, where he consistently fails to make the 18-man game-day roster. Leaving him no choice, apparently, but to take out his competitive frustration in practice.
His effort impressed at least one U.S. teammate. Jozy Altidore tweeted "Gooch is my hero," on Friday afternoon.