National Team Attention Does Not Warrant RSL Starting Spot For David Ochoa

Feb 19, 2021, 11:48 AM | Updated: 11:49 am
david ochoa practices on snowy soccer field...
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – David Ochoa, 20, has been receiving national team attention following the conclusion of the 2020 MLS season, but will that assure a starting job for Real Salt Lake in 2021?

National Team Attention

On November 30th, 2020, Ochoa was called into the US national team camp ahead of a friendly against El Salvador. However, unfortunately, a quadricep injury derailed his plans to debut for his country, and he was subsequently released from his duties.

Then, on January 5th, 2021, Ochoa was called into the US under-23 camp ahead of Olympic qualifying matches.

All of this occurred following the 2020 season that saw Ochoa play and start in one game for RSL. In the final regular-season match of the season, Ochoa strapped the gloves on and started for RSL against Sporting Kansas City in a snowstorm. RSL lost 2-0.

Ochoa has only ever seen first-team action on one occasion. Yet, he is being called into national team camps.

“The idea is that we hope that [national team experience] translates to him taking the starting position for our team. If he plays how he knows how to play, healthy and all that, I believe he will have a very good opportunity,” Manager Freddy Juarez told KSL Sports.

Little MLS Experience

Interestingly, Juarez also admitted that the original plan for Ochoa was to see more playing time in 2020. However, Ochoa battled a thumb injury throughout the year and struggled to find match fitness.

Juarez is a coach that believes in competition. He puts a lot of emphasis on the impact competition can have on his players. Ochoa will not have the starting job when RSL begins pre-season as that title remains vacant.

Ochoa will battle Andrew Putna, who saw most of the action during the 2020 season, for the starting spot in 2021.

Without question, the goalkeeper battle will be a fascinating subject to follow.

New Coach, Different Results?

Furthermore, the club has introduced a new goalkeeper coach, Ignacio Hernandez, a friend of Juarez from their days at the RSL Academy in Arizona. Hernandez has also helped develop goalkeepers at the international level working for the US, El Salvador, and Costa Rican national teams while also having experience at the MLS level when he worked under Steve Sampson at LA Galaxy in the early 2000s.

“The way he works with young keepers I think is going to go a long way with all our goalies. Already I think if you ask our goalkeepers, they’re going to be like, man, this guy is really working us. But I also think they are going to benefit from that. I think you’re gonna see even more growth than what you’ve seen in the past,” Juarez concluded.

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National Team Attention Does Not Warrant RSL Starting Spot For David Ochoa