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David Ochoa Warrants First Team Opportunity With Real Salt Lake Before It Becomes Too Late

(Photo courtesy of Real Salt Lake)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Now is the time for David Ochoa to be given the chance to prove his worth at the first-team level for Real Salt Lake. His time has come.

Ochoa, 19, has been highly publicized as the future at the goalkeeper position for many years now with many assuming Ochoa is the answer to fill the void left by legendary goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

On November 28, 2018, Ochoa was signed to a Homegrown contract by Real Salt Lake but is yet to play a game with the first-team. His two-year professional career has been spent with the Real Monarchs despite being a frequent call up to the U.S. U-20 National Team.

MacMath, Putna Experiment Concluded

In 2020, RSL has found life difficult trying to replace Nick Rimando who retired following the conclusion of the 2019 season. The club brought in Zac MacMath, a longtime MLS veteran who has bounced around the league since 2011 trying to solidify himself as a starting goalkeeper. MacMath was granted the first opportunity in between the sticks to start the 2020 season but was quickly replaced by Andrew Putna.

Putna, 25, filled in for Rimando during the 2019 season when Rimando was unavailable for selection, making the most of his opportunities by utilizing his impressive shot-stopping ability.

However, throughout the 12 games in which Putna has featured in this season, it has become more and more apparent that Putna may not be the long-term answer for the club as they continue to pursue a playoff position in 2020.

Long Term Solution Is Ochoa

Ochoa deserves an opportunity to showcase his ability now that he has returned to full fitness following a thumb injury that has hampered his 2020 campaign.

Putna and MacMath have had their opportunities and have made it very clear that there is still plenty of work required before either of them solidify themselves as a starting goalkeeper in Major League Soccer.

Is there a risk associated with throwing Ochoa into the deep end and asking him to swim? Of course, but that is the name of the game, is it not?

Anytime you throw a player out onto the pitch for the first time at the first-team level, regardless of the league or level of competition, the coach and club risk not knowing what to expect.

One thing is certain when it comes to Ochoa; his future within the game is as bright as any goalkeeper in North America. The 19-year-old is incredibly talented and confident.

His shot-stopping ability is world-class and he has proven that he can play the ball with his feet to get himself out of dangerous situations.

Ochoa is 19 years of age and full of energy. If he does eventually get his opportunity with Real Salt Lake in 2020 then he must keep his emotions in check and prove that he has the mental capacity to play like a professional. He has been criticized in the past for letting his emotions get the better of him and has come across as arrogant in doing so.

Perseverance is a duty. Patience is a virtue. But if RSL does not play their cards correctly, Ochoa will have no problems finding another home that will give him first-team minutes. RSL is playing a dangerous game and must act now.