Sounders pick up ex-US youth forward Sammy Ochoa

Sammy Ochoa scored for Seattle in a Reserve League game in June.

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Seattle Sounders FC

NEW YORK — A team still on the search for a go-to, goal-scoring forward has landed another candidate.

The Seattle Sounders traded up the allocation rankings and on Friday claimed former US youth international Sammy Ochoa, who signed an MLS contract earlier this week after spending the last five years in Mexico's Priméra División with Estudiantes Tecos.

Seattle traded their 2012 third-round SuperDraft pick to the Chicago Fire in a swap of allocation ranking spots. The Sounders, who were previously positioned at No. 6, used the Fire's No. 4 slot to land Ochoa.

The soon-to-be 25-year-old will be reunited in Seattle with his former US Under-20 manager, Sigi Schmid, after working out with the Sounders back in June and featuring in Reserve League action for the club. He will become the second Ochoa to play for Schmid, following in the footsteps of his older brother, Jesús, who played for Schmid at the LA Galaxy.

"We're happy to have Sammy join our team because it gives us a little more depth at forward," Schmid said in a club 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."

Ochoa is a Mexican-American who attended Riverside Poly High School near Los Angeles and debuted for Tecos back in February 2006. He scored just three goals over the course of several seasons of spot duty in Mexico. 

"He's a good back-to-goal player and a good finisher around the box," Schmid added. "Those are qualities that he's had. In all his time in Mexico he was in and out of the lineup because they had so many head coaches. So it was tough to establish a rhythm."

The striker played for Schmid's US Under-20 team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and featured for Peter Nowak's US Under-23 side in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Five clubs passed on the opportunity to claim Ochoa in the allocation rankings, including LA-based Chivas USA, who held the No. 1 allocation pick. By picking up the player, Seattle drop to the bottom of the allocation rankings, which is determined by reverse order of finish in the previous MLS campaign. It's reset after every season and looks like this as of Friday:

MLS ALLOCATION RANKING  (as of Aug. 26, 2011)

1) Chivas USA

2) Houston Dynamo

3) Toronto FC

4) Sporting Kansas City

5) Chicago Fire

6) Columbus Crew

7) New York Red Bulls

8) Real Salt Lake

9) San Jose Earthquakes

10) LA Galaxy

11) FC Dallas

12) Colorado Rapids

13) Vancouver Whitecaps

14) Portland Timbers

15) D.C. United

16) New England Revolution

17) Philadelphia Union

18) Seattle Sounders