As for goalkeeper David Ochoa? The 20-year-old homegrown is wearing the villain cape during the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The aspiring Mexican international has embraced that persona, “clapping back” at those who have been critical of RSL and who predicted the No. 7 seed's early postseason demise.
“We’re just shutting a couple mouths up as we go and we’re loving it man,” Ochoa said on ESPNFC’s Futbol Americas podcast. “We're in a good spot right now. We're feeling confident. I think we're going to get another result again on Saturday versus Portland.”
Ochoa said the critics, who slammed RSL for posting zero shots against Seattle, are “making us stronger.” He said the club’s performance at Sporting KC was proof, with RSL out-possessing and outshooting Peter Vermes' team at Children’s Mercy Park.
That accomplishment, according to Ochoa, silenced some of those naysayers, even a few on this very website.
“I do love winning and with that, you have to do a little bit of smack talking. And that's what I've been doing these last couple games,” Ochoa said. “In Seattle, the whole time they’re talking smack, even the league's saying we wouldn’t make it past the first round and, it's just those types of comments kind of fuel me a little bit and make me play better.”
Ochoa credits boyhood idols Cristiano Rinaldo and the late Kobe Bryant as providing that blueprint.
“[They] are two very competitive people and two people who were known for talking smack as well,” Ochoa said. “Maybe I got it from them a little bit.”
Part of Ochoa’s postseason smack-talking was directed at voters who selected Ricardo Pepi as the 2021 MLS Young Player of the Year. He recently took to Instagram Live to say the award should be taken away from the FC Dallas forward and given to him.
Ochoa also said he believes he was underrated on the 2021 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR list, where he checked in at No. 18 overall.
“I thought that was a little disrespectful, just knowing my quality and the guys that were named above me,” Ochoa sad. “I would say at least top five. But like I said, that stuff makes me work harder and makes me better. That's just the way I go about things and yeah, I did say that about Pepi. Me and Pepi have a good relationship so it wasn't too serious. It was more of a little humor between friends.”