There are few characters in MLS as antagonistic as David Ochoa right now, and the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper has been raising the temperature ahead of their clash with Sporting Kansas City.
The 20-year-old made three saves as RSL held the Seattle Sounders to a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes in their Western Conference Round One clash at Lumen Field. Despite failing to attempt a single shot, Salt Lake managed to force penalties.
With both sides netting all five of their opening spot-kicks, Ochoa denied Kelyn Rowe to set up Justen Glad’s winning strike. After defying all the odds, RSL now face another tough task away at SKC on Sunday, but Ochoa remains defiant in the face of so many writing the Utah side off again.
“I think that’s our biggest motivation right now,” he told reporters (via MLSsoccer.com). “The league has doubted us this whole season. It’s funny for me. I like humor. I think it’s funny we’re shutting a lot of mouths up. So that’s definitely our motivation.
“At the same time, thanks to them for giving us that motivation. It makes us play harder, play smarter and just give it all for this crest and for this group. I think we’re on a good path and this group has been really confident and we’re up for the task on Sunday, which is Sporting KC.”
Ochoa isn’t letting people get away with blindly reminding him of Tuesday’s shot count. Though that particular metric fell 21-0 in favor of the Sounders, the Mexican goalkeeper is keen to point out that he was rarely tested. Seattle generated just 1.13xG from their shots, with Raul Ruidiaz’s long-range shot that hit the woodwork their closest chance. Ochoa insists he even had that covered.
“They didn’t test me. I would even bring up Ruidiaz’s shot that everyone’s talking about: It’s a good shot, but I had it covered. He’s not beating me from that far,” he added. “It’s hitting the top of the crossbar. So I don’t think they had any chances to really make me make a play and have to make a diving save at all.
“People talk about us having zero shots on goal or whatever, but they had 20 shots and the only three they had on target were right to my hands, so to me it doesn’t really count. The same people who are talking smack right now are the same people who doubted us this whole season. So we’re fully confident and we have a good mentality going to Sporting KC and I think we’ll come out on top.”
The winner of Sunday’s clash will face the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference final.