MILAN (AP), Italy -- United States defender Oguchi Onyewu joined AC Milan on Tuesday, becoming one of the few Americans to play in Italy's top league.

Milan said Tuesday it had agreed to a three-year contract with the 27-year-old, whose contract with Standard Liege had expired.

Onyewu, long a star in the Belgian league, gained increased notice with superb performances in the U.S. run to the Confederations Cup final. Playing in central defense, he helped the America exciting. It's one of the great clubs in the world," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "I think it's a terrific opportunity for him, and certainly the experience that he'll get there I think will be really important as we move forward with our national team."

Onyequ was born in Washington, D.C., after his parents emigrated to the United States from Nigeria. He played for Clemson University, started for the United States at the 2006 World Cup and helped Standard Liege to two consecutive Belgian league titles.

AC Milan, back in the Champions League after a one-year absence, is trying to win its first Serie A title since 2003-04. Following the retirement of Paolo Maldini and the return of Phillipe Senderos to Arsenal following a yearlong loan, AC Milan's central defense options include several holdovers such as injury-prone Alessandro Nesta, Kakha Kaladze, Daniele Bonera and Thiago Silva.

Few Americans have been in Serie A in recent years. Defender Alexi Lalas played for Padova from 1994-96 after starring for the U.S. team at the 1994 World Cup. Forward Giuseppe Rossi, the son of Italian parents who was born in New Jersey, played for Parma and is now with Spain's Villarreal. He spurned the U.S. national team to play for Italy.

Financial details of the transfer were not disclosed. Onyewu holds a Belgian passport and will likely be registered by Milan as an EU player. Italian teams are limited in the amount of players they can sign from outside the European Union.

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