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"My decision came from the heart"

On August 12, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa announced his commitment and international future with the Mexican National Team.

Firmly in the conversation as the future of the United States goalkeeping core, Ochoa made a deeply personal decision to join Mexico, a decision rooted heavily in family, mental health and his experience living in the United States since he was a young boy. 

Ochoa sat down with Charlie Davies and RSL broadcast analyst Brian Dunseth on Sirius XM’s Counter Attack to discuss the decision and what impacted him in choosing Mexico. 

“I used the Players Tribune to announce my move because I knew there are so many players here in America just like me. They are born in the United States, but their parents are born in Mexico and they’re torn on so many things. So I wanted to tell my story in the hopes of motivating others in similar positions to make the right choices for themselves.”

While a decision like this comes with criticism from a passionate fanbase, the decision to switch was based on issues surrounding mental health, familial feelings and wanting to feel like he was comfortable being himself in a group he belonged to.

“My decision came from the heart. Seeing the players on Mexico that I grew up idolizing in the Nations League Final really reminded me of being a kid and wanting to be a professional soccer player. The decision ultimately came from the heart at the end of the day. I have a lot of respect for the U.S. team and everyone involved there. I wanted them to know that I was grateful for all the opportunities they’ve given me through the years. I wanted them to know that it was a personal decision,” Ochoa explained on Sirius XM’s Counter Attack.

Growing up in Southern California in Oxnard – a town that is demographically 60 percent Latino – Ochoa was surrounded by mixed emotions being a Mexican American and trying to fulfill the dream of becoming a professional soccer player with sights set on playing in Mexico. Everything in your life feels like you’re in Mexico and not the United States, Ochoa details in the Players Tribune

“I grew up supporting Mexico and for me it was always LIGA MX and Mexico. It was Mexico and Chivas as the biggest games of the year in our house and in my school. I always felt a bit guilty supporting Mexico while representing the U.S. and in the United States you can be looked at different in America being a Mexican-American which is where my struggles with mental health began,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa details in his story that he has always wanted to feel comfortable and at home where he was playing soccer and he didn’t always feel that at times as his youth and professional career progressed.

“In talking with the leadership at the Mexico Federation it was evident how they felt about me and my potential future with them. When my idol Guillermo Ochoa sends me a video message saying that he hopes to see me play for Mexico one day, that was very special. I felt like I belonged there. It’s exciting to have the chance fulfill those expectations and represent my family and the country proudly.”