Sounders expect FW Ochoa to offer depth, future potential

Sammy Ochoa heads the ball during a Reserve League game.

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC

TUKWILA, Wash. — Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer made good on his pledge to strengthen Seattle’s roster on Friday, moving up in the allocation order to nab forward Sammy Ochoa.

Most recently with Estudiantes Tecos in the Mexican Primera División, Ochoa is a 6-foot striker who is comfortable playing with his back to the goal. His skill set could be useful for Seattle, who were foiled in their attempts to bring in a big-name striker before the MLS summer transfer window closed on Aug. 15.

Over the course of the 2011 season, Seattle have used Pat Noonan, Mike Fucito, Nate Jaqua, Roger Levesque and Mauro Rosales in the second striker role alongside Fredy Montero.

"We're happy to have Sammy join our team because it gives us a little more depth at forward," said head coach Sigi Schmid in a statement. "He did well when he was here on his trial. Now it's just a matter of getting him fit and getting his game legs and he could help us."

Hanauer indicated that the club’s signing of Ochoa will not diminish Seattle’s pursuit of other big-name players. The club was pleased with Ochoa’s performance during a trial period earlier this year and started taking steps toward acquiring the 24-year-old.

“We were involved behind the scenes in getting him to sign with the league,” Hanauer said Friday.

Hanauer did add, however, that it may make some time to integrate Ochoa into the Sounders set-up, and immediate results aren’t necessarily what the club is expecting. But the Mexican-born former US youth international’s history with Schmid works in his favor.

“When Sammy came in and trialed with us, we liked him,” Hanauer said. “And Sigi knows him from his past and he was a player that we thought can help us out. Whether [that’s] this year, we don’t know, whether it’s next year — but he’s a strong, smart forward. Good technical ability, hits the ball hard with both feet, quick release, good in the air and we think will add depth at the forward position.”

Ochoa had previously trained with Sounders FC in June, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 Reserve League win over the LA Galaxy on June 13. A member of Schmid's US team at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Ochoa started three of the four matches in the tournament.

Schmid is hoping Ochoa can recapture the talent he showed during that tournament despite seeing limited action in the Mexican league.  

“He’s a good back-to-goal player,” Schmid said. “He’s a good finisher around the box. ... Those are qualities that he had. All his time in Mexico, he was in and out of the lineup so much. But … probably in four years, he probably had 12 head coaches, so it’s tough to establish a rhythm."

Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS