DC United acquiring goalkeeper David Ochoa


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

The sides were awaiting MLS approval before announcing the trade, which would send allocation money to Salt Lake.

Because Ochoa is in the final year of his contract, United would pay a portion of the unspecified allocation money right away and the balance only if Ochoa signs a new contract with DC, said one person, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely on the mats.

Ochoa is making $103,500 this season, MLS Players Association data shows. If he does not sign with United, Ochoa seems likely to pursue opportunities abroad. Some major clubs in Europe and Mexico have reportedly shown interest.

United officials declined to comment. RSL officials could not immediately be reached.

Ochoa would challenge Rafael Romo for the starting job. Romo (eight starts) has received mixed reviews after replacing veteran Bill Hamid, who underwent hand surgery June 30.

Hamid, who was expected to miss two to three months after the procedure, is in the final year of his contract, and people close to the organization said United seems unlikely to extend an offer this fall. Jon Kempin (two starts) is the other keeper on the roster.

Ochoa, 21, turned pro in 2019 and started 25 matches last season but lost the starting job to Zac MacMath this year. After being sidelined early in the season with quadriceps and hand injuries, Ochoa has been absent for what the team said were personal reasons, the coach’s decision and fitness issues.

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

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

His only appearances have come in the US Open Cup tournament (one start) and with RSL’s third-division squad, Real Monarchs (two starts).

Ochoa’s immense talent, though, made him the center of a struggle between the US and Mexican national teams for his services. A dual national from Southern California, Ochoa played for the US youth national teams and started for the under-23 squad at the 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament.

Gregg Berhalter, coach of the US senior squad, named him to the 2021 Concacaf Nations League roster. He didn’t play but seemed to be in Berhalter’s long-term plans. Later that summer, though, Ochoa received FIFA approval for a one-time switch to the Mexican program. He was called up for the first time in April but has yet to play.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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