DC United acquire goalkeeper David Ochoa



DC United have reached an agreement to acquire David Ochoa, a highly regarded goalkeeper who has been locked in a dispute with Real Salt Lake and has not played this season, three people familiar with the trade said on Thursday.

The move, which would send allowance money to Salt Lake, was subject to MLS approval. In anticipation of that, however, Ochoa was scheduled to travel to Washington on Thursday and could be in uniform Sunday against Orlando City at Audi Field.

Because Ochoa is in the final year of his contract, United would immediately pay some of the unspecified allowance money and the balance only if Ochoa signs a new contract with DC, said three people, who asked the anonymity in order to be able to speak freely on the matter.

Ochoa is earning $103,500 this season, according to MLS Players Association data, and has turned down multiple offers to re-sign with RSL at a much higher salary. If he doesn’t sign with United, Ochoa is likely to pursue opportunities abroad. Clubs in Europe and Mexico have reportedly expressed interest.

United and RSL officials declined to comment.

Ochoa would challenge Rafael Romo for the starting position. Romo (eight starts since acquiring Belgian club Leuven in April) has received mixed reviews after replacing veteran Bill Hamid, who underwent hand surgery on June 30.

Hamid, who was expected to miss two to three months after the procedure, is in the final season of a $700,000-a-year contract. People close to the organization have said that given Hamid’s salary and injury history, United are unlikely to make a bid this fall. Jon Kempin (two starts) is the other goaltender on the roster.

Ochoa, 21, turned pro in 2019 and started 25 games last season, but lost the starting job to Zac MacMath this year. After being sidelined at the start of the season with quadriceps and hand injuries, Ochoa was sidelined for what the team said were personal reasons, coach Pablo Mastroeni’s decision and physical fitness issues.

On July 12, Ochoa wrote on Instagram that he was “still an RSL player”.

“I’m just not allowed to train with the team…and I can’t leave,” he wrote.

His only appearances have been in the US Open Cup tournament (one start) and with RSL Third Division side Real Monarchs (two starts).

Ochoa’s immense talent, however, made him the center of a fight between the United States and Mexico national teams for his services. A dual Southern California national, Ochoa played for the U.S. national youth teams and started for the Under-23 team at the 2020 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

USA senior team coach Gregg Berhalter named him to the 2021 Concacaf Nations League roster. He didn’t play but appeared to be in Berhalter’s long-term plans. Later that summer, however, Ochoa received FIFA approval for a one-time stint on the Mexican schedule. He was first called up in April but has yet to play.

The acquisition of Ochoa continues a busy few weeks for United, who, with a 5-12-3 record, sit last in the overall standings of MLS’s 28 teams with 14 games remaining. Former England superstar Wayne Rooney, who played for United in 2018 and 2019, was appointed as head coach two weeks ago.

Forward Miguel Berry (traded with Columbus) and Chilean winger Martín Rodriguez (transferred from Altay in Turkey) made their debuts last weekend. Like Rooney, Jamaican striker Ravel Morrison (transferred from Derby County in England) and Icelandic defensive midfielder Victor Palsson (transferred from Schalke in Germany) are awaiting work visas.

United are aiming to sign a high-priced Designated Player and complete other moves before the August 4 deadline for MLS transfers and swaps. (Teams are allowed to sign free agents until the September 2 roster freeze.)

The club’s hope of landing striker Elijah Adebayo, one of Luton Town’s top scorers in the English second division, seems remote.

‘There has been an investigation’ by DC United, Luton Town Manager Nathan Jones told reporters in England. “Now is not the time. Elijah’s next step should really be to look at the Premier League. … Unless we get a substantial offer in the Premier League, Elijah will continue to play for Luton Town.


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