When Sammy Ochoa signed with the Sounders FC in August, he and the team agreed that he had to do some work to get on the field.
Now, he’s played 92 minutes in four competitive matches for the first team and on Monday night showed that his fitness has gotten much better in playing 75 minutes in Seattle’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS Reserve League.
Ochoa showed a glimpse of what he can bring to the Sounders attack in each of his appearances this season, but on Monday, he had his most complete performance to date. He held up the ball with the strength hoped for from a target forward, but also had an excellent flick across the goal mouth to Michael Tetteh for an early goal and made a good run of his own to finish a first-half goal.
“Ochoa played really well,” Sounders FC assistant coach and head of the reserve squad Ezra Hendrickson said. “He holds the ball up really well. He’s very soccer-smart - he’s got some savvy to him.”
In a physical match, Ochoa utilized his bulk to keep the Sounders in possession while fighting off San Jose defenders. And while he took – and delivered – a beating, he was excited to get back in the mix in a match for extended minutes.
“It was fun,” he said. “I haven’t played that long in a while, but it felt good to play that long and to get the win.”
Ochoa is getting more and more comfortable with his teammates and in the setting of the Sounders FC. He’s also growing more comfortable in Seattle, which is undoubtedly aided by the recent relocation of his family to Seattle.
Now with his first start under his belt, he’s gearing toward more playing time with the first team. His style of play is different from that of his teammates and at 25 years old, he is still malleable enough to make adjustments to fit the strengths of his teammates.
“He knows where to show. How to hold guys off. How to hold the ball up. Where to make runs. Technically, he’s very sound,” Hendrickson said. “He just hasn’t been playing that much. He’s come a long ways from three or four weeks ago. It’s good to see that improvement. He’s going to do well for us.”
He’s already done well in short bursts, seemingly making a threat on goal in each of his four matches.
Now with a goal and an assist with the reserves to his credit, he’s ready to take MLS by storm.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting a start in the league, but I’ve got to be patient and be ready whenever they call on me.”
The Sounders host the Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field on Saturday in the regular season home finale. Over 57,000 tickets have been distributed and tickets are still available at www.SoundersFC.com.