The length of time for both injured American players to recuperate for the World Cup is short.
Six months of recuperation could put Onyewu's 2010 World Cup chances in jeopardy. The 6'4 defender hurt his knee late in the final USA qualifying game versus Costa Rica last week.
Retired USA international Thomas Dooley acknowledged that the timing of the injury could be disastrous for Onyewu, but he was also hopeful.
"I was many times in the hospital in my career and every time when I came back, I played right away," Dooley explained exclusively to Goal.com. "It all depends on how much effort you put in. I had my surgery and a week later, I was in a rehabilitation center working out my whole body - my arms and my back, my other leg, everything I could. So when I got the ok from the doctor, I was fit - well, not a hundred percent fit, but I could train with my team and I did everything in training to show my coach that I was ready to go."
Dooley emphasized that Onyewu would have to be proactive about coping with his injury.
"If he thinks, I'm not doing anything for four months then I'm starting to build up my muscles, then forget about it," said Dooley. "But if he wants to play in the World Cup, he needs to start right away to work out - everything - so that the whole body is 100 percent fit, so when you get back, you don't need four or eight weeks to get back."
Six months off would leave Onyewu out of action until the middle of April. The Serie A season ends May 9 and Onyewu struggled to get playing time for AC Milan even before his injury. Yet the defender has been crucial to the USA in recent games.
Another USA player, Charlie Davies, had his World Cup chances almost certainly eliminated when he sustained serious injuries in a car crash.
However, his teammate Landon Donovan held out for a miracle.
"I'm still hopeful that Charlie makes it back," Donovan said Tuesday. "We'll see if he plays again - that's good - and then you take the next step and see if he can play at the World Cup."
Besides Davies and Onyewu, central defender Jay DeMerit had a recent surgery, a cornea replacement operation is expected to sideline him for two months.
Andrea Canales, Goal.com
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