United States Olympic goalkeeper David Ochoa pays tribute to Des McAleenan

US Olympic goalkeeper David Ochoa In MLS Homegrown Game.Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
US Olympic goalkeeper David Ochoa In MLS Homegrown Game.Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

In Thursday’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica, United States goalkeeper David Ochoa produced nine saves in what is a pivotal fixture for Olympic qualifying. But Ochoa produced his best moment after the game, long after the final whistle.

The Real Salt Lake goalkeeper paid tribute to Des McAleenan in a social media post following the United States Olympic side’s gritty and gutsy win. McAleenan, a goalkeeper coach in both MLS and the international level, unexpectedly passed away this month.

See United States Olympic goalkeeper David Ochoa’s tweet honoring Des McAleenan:

McAleenan served as a goalkeeper coach for the United States at the youth national team level in 2016, where he came across and worked with Ochoa. The Irishman is best known for his decade spent in MLS with the New York Red Bulls, where he worked with the likes of Tim Howard, Tony Meola and Bouna Coundoul among others.

His reputation was among the best goalkeeper coaches in the world. At the time of his passing, he was the goalkeeper coach for the Colombian national team.

Ochoa’s nine saves – several of a highlight variety, helped propel the United States Olympic hopefuls to a share of the Olympic qualifying group along with Mexico. They next play the Dominican Republic and finally El Tri, who are hosting the tournament.

The 20-year old Ochoa has cemented himself as one of the top young goalkeepers in MLS. Last season, he played in one match for Real Salt Lake in league play. He’s been a standout for Real Monarchs in the USL, where has 20 matches played.

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“I thought Ochoa was excellent,” United States U23 head coach Jason Kreis said according to MLSSoccer.com. “The decision [to start him] was based upon performance in this camp. Both of the goalkeepers that we would have thought to give the first chance to with JT [Marcinkowski] and David both came in here with a slight injury, so it was kind of interesting to watch them in the first 10 days as they built back to a place where they were 100 percent.

“And I just felt over the last couple of days, really made the decision very, very late, but it seemed pretty clear to me that at this moment right now, Ochoa is in a little bit better form. So we knew that we were going to need him to make some saves tonight and he came through in a very big way for us.”

A first half goal by FC Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira was the difference in a match that the United States controlled at times but also saw some glaring issues along their backline that are causes for concern as the tournament continues to unfold.

With a win over the Dominican Republic, the United States would likely book a place in the semifinals of the qualifying tournament. In the semifinals, they project to face either Honduras or Canada for a berth in this summer’s Olympics.

Follow Kristian Dyer of ‘MLS Multiplex‘ on Twitter @KristianRDyer