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Making sense of the David Ochoa rumors

Ochoa’s departure seems written in stone — but why?

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Just a year ago, David Ochoa was heralded far and wide; he was starting for Real Salt Lake, and he seemed destined for a spot atop the annals of club history.

But 2022 has had other plans, and now Ochoa has been linked repeatedly with teams around the world. The latest? West Ham United, the English Premier League, who remarkably have a chance to finish sixth in the league (but will more likely finish in seventh, just outside of a Europa League spot.)

But there’s not a straightforward path between 2021 and 2022, and there are more unknowns than I know how to counter. I can instead point to a series of comments from RSL general manager Elliot Fall and RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni, who have both commented on the soon-to-be-out-of-contract goalkeeper in recent weeks.

Reading between the lines is a hard thing, and it takes some precision and often some inside knowledge. But at this point, it may be all we’ve got, because reading these things literally isn’t providing us much ability to discern truth, especially given the very rapid unfolding of rumors around Ochoa.

Is it a coincidence that Mastroeni says Ochoa has “some stuff that he’s been dealing with,” with rumors populating near-simultaneously? Is it a coincidence that Ochoa is out-of-contract at the end of the year, and the rumors show him leaving RSL on a free? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But it’s also not proof, and that makes all this a bit more confusing. And maybe both Mastroeni and Fall are on the same page.

But whatever happens, I don’t think we have any room to be happy about the way this has unfolded. The lack of clarity around Ochoa’s injury status and personal status, combined with rumors that he’s ready to leave on a free, collapse into one thing for me: Never let your most talented players go into the last year on their contract.

I wasn’t in the room, and maybe we tried to sign Ochoa to a new deal in early 2021. It would have been the right time. But instead, Ochoa is now a player with Mexican National Team prospects, and there’s a very real possibility he’s reacting poorly to losing his starting position at Real Salt Lake. Whatever the case, it is RSL that loses out on the player — either with a healthy transfer fee, or with an exciting young goalkeeper between the sticks.