David Ochoa has made a final decision on his international future as he announced that he will play for Mexico over the United States.
The news was confirmed on Thursday by the Mexican Football Federation as they said the 20-year-old Real Salt Lake goalkeeper had filed the one-time switch with FIFA.
Ochoa would post an essay on The Players Tribune website that explained the reason behind his choice to represent El Tri over the U.S. He stated that it was “a personal, emotional decision.”
“My decision is nothing against the U.S. It’s nothing against any teammate or any coach, or against American soccer. Honestly. I still play soccer here, and I owe so much of my career to the American youth system,” said Ochoa.
“This is where I have matured as a player and a person. This is where I found the coach who changed my life. So, yeah, I want to make that clear: I am very, very grateful to American soccer.”
The California native would start his path through the soccer ranks in Mexico where he spent time at the academy of Chivas de Guadalajara. Upon moving back to the U.S., he joined the Real Salt Lake Academy which then saw him sign with their second division team, Real Monarchs, in the USL Championship.
In November 2020, the 6-3 netminder earned his first start for Salt Lake in Major League Soccer against Sporting Kansas City. He has since gone on to establish himself as the number one for the Western Conference team.
Since 2018, Ochoa was in the U.S. national team system as he played games from the Under-18s up to the Under-23s. He was the starter for the U-23s in their failed bid to secure a spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in March.
While a skillful goalkeeper with a tremendous upside, Ochoa’s path to earning the number one shirt for the U.S. would have been a huge challenge with Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, and Matt Turner ahead of him in the pecking order.