Sammy Ochoa at Starfire prior to going to Florida (photo courtesy of Chris Coulter / SoundersPhotos.com)
Over a one month stretch, Sammy Ochoa and Seattle Sounders FC will face three teams from Mexico. Two of those matches are merely preseason tuneups for the more significant two-leg CONCACAF Champions League matchup against Santos Laguna. For Ochoa, in his first preseason with Seattle, he has a little extra motivation to succeed against teams in a league where regular playing time and success were limited.
I want to show them that they missed out on a good player and hopefully we do good against those teams.
In his battle for playing time, he makes it clear that he has to adjust back to the American style of play, rather than his five year experience in Mexico. He also mentions several times, "I'm here now." Though the topic of playing against familiar teams is natural, it is not his focus for the season -- he is focused on the upcoming MLS season. Ochoa describes the differences in play:
I played here when I was younger, but still I played five years down there and it's a lot different. They don't press as much, they let you keep the ball. They keep the ball. They let you turn. They let you do a lot of stuff that MLS won't let you do. I have to get adapted here. You have to be quicker in MLS. There the game is a lot slower and that's how I was used to playing, but being here I have to get used to the way of play here.
It is in upcoming training games against Jaguares de Chiapas and Atlante where the new father (Thiago Samuel Ochoa, his second child, was born February 1st) can show the coaching staff that a full preseason with Seattle will help him fit into regular rotational minutes as the partner to Fredy Montero. Whether it is Sammy Ochoa or Mike Fucito who starts a match, the other will almost certainly be ready to come in as a substitute. Some games, and possibly the two quite important Champions League matches that start the season, will call for skill sets that only one of those players offer.