Onyewu prepares for first game with AC Milan

ATLANTA (AP)—Oguchi Onyewu finally had his first practice with AC Milan.

The first U.S.-born player to sign with the prestigious Italian team, Onyewu is eager to prove he belongs at soccer’s highest professional level.

And he’ll get a first chance, of sorts, on Wednesday, when AC Milan plays Mexico’s Club America in an exhibition Wednesday at the Georgia Dome.

“Obviously in sports, there’s no guarantees,” Onyewu said Tuesday night. “I’m certainly under the impression that I’ll have to play for my spot. I’m still trying to figure out what I need to do because we have a number of great defenders on the squad, and this is the first day that I actually got involved with the team.”

AC Milan organizing director Umberto Gandini, who has hired Brazilian Leonardo as a rookie head coach, hopes Onyewu will be the central piece in a slight rebuilding job for the long-respected team. Captain Paolo Maldini retired when last season ended, and many Milan fans were upset when playmaker Kaka’s contract was sold to Real Madrid.

Gandini replaced coach Carlo Ancelotti, who signed with Chelsea, after Milan finished third last season in Serie A. The team also announced that Massimo Ambrosini will replace Maldini as captain.

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