The Real Salt Lake goalkeeper says he will dedicate his international future to El Tri as he begins his fight against depression
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa has committed himself to Mexico after previously representing the U.S. men’s team.
Ochoa was in the USMNT’s Nations League team for this summer’s victory over El Tri, but will now switch to Mexico after shining in the youth levels for the USA.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper explains his decision in a piece for the Players’ Tribune, where he sets out his complex Mexican-American upbringing, his struggles with depression and why he eventually chose to opt for El Tri.
What did Ochoa say about the USMNT?
“Just so you know, my decision is nothing against the USA, it’s nothing against a teammate or coach or against American football,” Ochoa wrote as he explained how the loss of goalkeeping coach Des McAleenan to suicide shaped his decision-making process. has. “Honestly. I still play football here, and I owe so much of my career to the American youth system.
“This is where I grew up as a player and a person. Here I found the coach who changed my life. So, yes, I want to make it clear: I’m very grateful for American football.
He added: ‘And I realized that no matter how hard I try, I will never be completely American and I will never be completely Mexican, so it’s about where I feel more comfortable, and something in me feels more at home with the Mexican players. They are loud and fun and outgoing. They make me feel like I’m with my Oxnard friends … Actually, after all that happened, I just want to be happy.
“That’s why I choose Mexico, and I really hope you understand it. Although it’s a personal, emotional decision, I hope it makes sense. It definitely did for me.”
Frustration of the Nations League
Ochoa joins Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath in the USMNT group for the Nations League, as well as a friendly tournament after Costa Rica.
The Real Salt Lake goalkeeper was the only American player who did not appear in the three games, also in the friendly at his home stadium.
Although the incident was the deciding factor, Ochoa admitted that he was frustrated because Gregg Berhalter decided not to play him in front of his fans in his hometown.
“The final against Mexico was strange,” he said. “On the bench, of course, I sit in the US because I was part of the team. But something in my heart was like: Wow … these Mexican players are the ones I grew up watching on TV. Guillermo Ochoa was I really felt that Mexico has a place in my heart.
“Eventually I became the only player in the camp who did not play a minute. I’m not saying I should have played in the Nations League. I’m still young, and the team had two very good goalkeepers. I also know that I made a mistake in the Olympic qualifiers, but I did very well during training and I wanted to show what I can do.
“When we met Costa Rica in a friendly meeting after the tournament, I thought: They should give me this game. We played where I played home games with Real Salt Lake, in front of my own fans.
“At one point the crowd sang for me to arrive. The game was easy for us too. The one half. Even just 15 minutes. But it never happened.
I’m not going to lie about it: I was frustrated. I was angry. I felt that they did not really believe in me. When Mexico invited me to a training camp before the Gold Cup with the green light to say yes Tata Martino coached Barcelona and Argentina – he worked with the best goalkeepers in the world – and now he said he believed in my potential . . “
The bigger picture
Ochoa joins Mexico in a program that also provides a clearer path to senior minutes.
The U.S. currently has Steffen, Horvath and Matt Turner as the top three goalkeepers of the program, with Turner the oldest of the group at just 27.
Mexico, meanwhile, is still led by Ochoa at the age of 36, while 38-year-old Alfredo Talavera started all the El Tri matches during the summer gold medal with Ochoa at the Olympics.