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RSL keeper David Ochoa doesn’t play in USMNT’s 4-0 win over Costa Rica, but receives plenty of praise

Ochoa was the only player not to see time on the field during the USMNT’s recent run of games.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita andUnited States defender Reggie Cannon as the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) faces Costa Rica in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

Sandy • The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team had already built a commanding lead with less than 15 minutes remaining in its friendly Wednesday against Costa Rica when the chants started.

“We want Ochoa! We want Ochoa! We want Ochoa!”

The crowd was pleading to see David Ochoa, the starting Real Salt Lake goalkeeper who was on the roster for the USMNT’s run to a Nations League title. The game against Costa Rica didn’t mean much other than as part of mimicking a World Cup qualifying schedule, and was being played in RSL’s home Rio Tinto Stadium.

But Ochoa’s time never came. He ended up the only player on the USMNT roster not to play any minutes in the team’s recent run of games.

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said after the team’s dominant 4-0 win that he considered inserting Ochoa into the lineup due to the aforementioned factors.

“These aren’t nice things,” Berhalter said. “I talked to David about it and I said, ‘Your time will come.’”

Berhalter added that the team’s focus was on preparing for World Cup qualifying and getting goalkeeper Ethan Horvath “valuable minutes that he hasn’t had recently.” So that left Ochoa on the outside looking in.

But Berhalter did make a point to praise Ochoa and comment on his potential.

“David is a top prospect,” Berhalter said. “He’s a guy that continued to impress us throughout camp — [not only] with his mindset, his attitude, but also his play. We’re excited to see how he continues to develop.”

Because Ochoa didn’t play during the Nations League tournament, he won’t be cap-tied with the USMNT. That means he is free to join another federation — the Mexican national team has been looking at him recently — if he so chooses.

Ochoa has started five of RSL’s six games and earned his first MLS shutout in the process. Shortly after that, he was called up to his first USMNT camp and named to his first roster as well.

While Ochoa watched from the sidelines, the USMNT made things look easy. Brenden Aaronson, Daryl Dike, Reggie Cannon and Gio Reyna scored a goal apiece for the U.S., which is coming off a CONCACAF Nations League title it won Sunday over Mexico in a wild game.

The crowd of 19,000-plus was the largest at Rio Tinto since RSL’s 2020 home opener against the New York Red Bulls.

Dike, who scored his first-ever international goal Wednesday, enjoyed the atmosphere in the stadium. Aaronson called it “electrifying.” Fans did The Wave and chanted throughout a game that appeared over in the first half.

“It’s something that you’ve always kind of looked forward to as a young kid to be able to play in front of thousands and thousands of fans,” Dike said. “And then, of course, to get the win and hear them cheering and doing The Wave. It’s just a great environment in general.”

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