Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has returned to the Liga MX club that he grew up with.
Two weeks into the Apertura 2019, America was forced to do some scrambling to fill the gaping hole left by the departure of standout goalie Agustin Marchesin with whom the Aguilas won Liga MX and Copa MX titles, as well as the recent Champions Cup.
The rumors started swirling immediately. Names such as former Queretaro stud Tiago Volpi and even former England keeper Joe Hart popped up. But there was only name America fans were fixated on – Guillermo Ochoa.
On Tuesday, the club officially announced that Memo was coming home, and he signed a 3-year contract with the Aguilas.
At just 18, Ochoa made his Liga MX debut in the Clausura 2004 under Dutch legend Leo Beenhakker. The Guadalajara native spent the next seven years defending America’s colors, winning one league title (Clausura 2005), runner-up once (Clausura 2007), and claiming the 2005 league Champions Cup.
The popular goalie made his way to Europe in 2011 at the age of 26, signing with French club AC Ajaccio. He played in France through 2014, with 116 appearances in which he conceded 186 goals.
In 2014 after a spectacular showing in the World Cup in Brazil (who can forget his performance against the hosts in a group stage match), Ochoa signed with Malaga to play in La Liga. though he often found himself on the bench behind Cameroonian Carlos Kameni. Memo only had 19 appearances, conceding 19 goals.
Hoping to find more playing time, Ochoa forced a loan to Granada in the summer of 2016. He got his wish, becoming the No. 1 keeper, but the team in front of him was not good. He made 39 appearances and gave up 82 goals, the most by any goalkeeper in La Liga.
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Ochoa moved on Spain and, in 2017, signed with Belgium’s Standard Liege with whom he started for the next two years. Memo made a total of 86 appearances, giving up 113 goals and winning the Belgian Cup in 2018.
That summer, Ochoa again enjoyed a stellar World Cup, helping El Tri stun defending champion Germany in their opener. Still, he could not find work with a big club. He was in the running for a spot with Napoli, but when Standard Liege insisted he appear in a Europa League qualifier, the Italian club looked elsewhere.
His years in Europe were frustrating ones, playing with lower-tier teams and constantly under assault. Still, Ochoa proved his quality over and over – especially with the national team. This summer, he helped lead Mexico to victory in the Gold Cup.
No question, Guillermo Ochoa is Mexico’s No. 1 right now.
Without a doubt, the return of Ochoa – paired with the acquisition of playmaker Giovanni Dos Santos – has made America a must-see team for the rest of the Apertura 2019.