Guillermo ‘Memo’ Ochoa has been that face of Mexican football in his time. From gracing the cover of FIFA 2008 and 2009, to leading El Tri in World Cup qualifiers, there is one thing we have never seen…Ochoa protecting Mexico’s goal in a World Cup.
He has been there before. He was called in 2006, but Oswaldo Sánchez was the one to win the spot. Yet, only at the age of 20, it was not unthinkable to have Ochoa sit back as a reserve.
Moving forward, Ochoa began to shine with Club América, and saw more time with the national team. He gained a lot of attention at the 2009 Gold Cup when Mexico defeated Costa Rica in PK’s in the semifinal. He made a major stop which boosted Mexico to the championship match.
Mexico would go on and beat the USA, 5-0 in the final. Memo would then be the go-to keeper when qualifiers resumed in 2009.
It was unimaginable to think Ochoa was not going to play in the 2010 World Cup. He had been there for Mexico and came up big when he was needed. However, Javier Aguirre decided to start Óscar ‘Conejo’ Pérez in South Africa. Fans over could not believe Pérez won the keeper battle, when Ochoa was a gem throughout qualifying.
Bad luck seemed to hit Ochoa repeatedly. During the 2011 Gold Cup, several Mexicans tested positive for a banned substance (one that turned out to be due to meat consumption), and Ochoa was absent during the Mexicans triumph in the tournament.
Today, in 2014, we are once again in the middle of a debacle concerning Ochoa. Miguel Herrera is about to make his 23-man roster on May 9th, and rumor has it Ochoa is not one of them. Herrera has stated several times that he prefers Corona as keeper, and Fox Deportes claimed Memo Ochoa is a doubtful to make the list. Either way, if he makes the roster, it seems unlikely that he is going to be the starter.
So the question begs…will Ochoa ever see the pitch at a World Cup? He has seemed to do everything right; win the hearts of the fans and take Ligue 1 by storm. But here we are, about to head into the World Cup with little faith that Ochoa will even be present.
Come 2018, Ochoa will be 33, which is not old for a keeper. Thankfully, goalkeepers have longer careers than say a winger or attacking mid. However, will Ochoa still be accepting the calls from Mexico? He wouldn’t be the first, as Carlos Vela has seemed to close all doors to his future as an international footballer.
It is a painful thought for any Mexico fan. Once the golden boy of Mexican football, Ochoa now may never play at a World Cup.
What do you think!?