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Opinion: David Ochoa Will Be The Starting Goalkeeper For Real Salt Lake In 2021



SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The time has come. David Ochoa will start in goal for Real Salt Lake in 2021 after years of speculation surrounding his first-team future.

Finally, Ochoa’s Time Has Come

Reasons for Ochoa starting are rather self-explanatory, we will begin with the obvious reason; he is the best goalkeeper, despite very little first-team experience, out of the group. Ochoa has more ability than last year’s starter Andrew Putna and MLS veteran Zac MacMath, 29. I say that with all due respect to Putna and MacMath, of course.

MacMath, Putna Still Lingering

McMath’s time at RSL may as well be over. After joining the club and winning the starting spot to begin the 2020 season, MacMath only saw action in seven games during the 2020 calendar year. He played the first six games of the 2020 season before ultimately being dropped by Manager Freddy Juarez. He is RSL’s third goalkeeper.

Putna is a talented goalkeeper and has the potential to have a successful professional career. However, one aspect of his game has let him down and is one of the main reasons I believe Ochoa will start over him.

Putna’s kicking is poor. Last year, Putna frequently gave the ball back to the opposition through poor mistakes made by his feet. Unlike his predecessor, Nick Rimando, who made a living pinpointing passes to his teammates to help start attacking opportunities, Putna does not have that ability in his arsenal.

Putna was dropped for the final game of the 2020 season, Ochoa debuted for RSL during a blizzard at home against Sporting Kansas City. That alone suggests the coaching staff saw enough from Putna in 2020 and felt the need to give Ochoa a chance to debut ahead of the 2021 season starting.

Welcome To The Future Of RSL

Ochoa is the most well-rounded goalkeeper RSL has at its disposal. He is also the youngest and has received the most attention from the national team. Ochoa’s youth and lack of first-team experience have been a dilemma for the coaching staff for years now. But the time has come, at some point Juarez must put the trust in his young goalkeeper to perform at the first-team level, that time will be against Minnesota on April 24th for the season opener.

Ochoa’s age, matched with his ability, makes the decision to start him an easy one in 2021.

Furthermore, the club is currently in a position in which they can afford to start Ochoa this year. The expectation on RSL is low, following a 2020 season that saw the club finish in the second-to-last position in the Western Conference. Ochoa has time to grow into his starting role, and as the season progresses, assuming he can maintain good health, he will be far more confident and at ease starting for RSL by the pointy end of the season.


Start Him Now

Starting Ochoa at the start of the season will enhance his development drastically, as opposed to starting him midway through the season. Furthermore, Ochoa will no longer be leaving for Olympic duty after the US under-23 team failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after losing to Honduras in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.

By starting him at the start of the season, Juarez now knows that he will have his goalkeeper for the remainder of the season. As opposed to starting him, losing him for a month and a half, then having him return for the final stretch of the season.

Welcome to the Ochoa era, RSL fans. Enjoy the sights of a 20-year-old phenom defending your net as his long-term future with the club will likely be cut short once a much larger European club comes calling.

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