Major League Soccer

David Ochoa on his decision to represent Mexico as a dual-nat player: 'It’s a hard in-between that we are in'

Lizzy Becherano
David Ochoa on choosing Mexico over the United States.
David Ochoa on choosing Mexico over the United States. / Fernando Leon/ISI Photos/GettyImages

David Ochoa completed FIFA’s one time switch in 2021, confirming his allegiance for the Mexican national team over the United States. 

The goalkeeper previously featured for the American team on various youth levels, and remains grateful for the experience, but his heart was always with El Tri. Born in the United States to Mexican parents, David Ochoa explained the “in-between” nature of the situation. 

“It was a tough experience, ever since I can remember there was that debate and both sides talking to me," he said. "Since I was 15, both federations were talking to me, so it was a long, long process. It took me six years to make a decision. It’s a hard inbetween that we are in.

“We want to be grateful for what the country has given our family, but at the same time you don't want to forget your roots. But I had to think about it, talk to my family and most importantly, take my time with it because I am still young. But I am glad I’ve gotten it out of the way now, and hopefully everything works out.”

But as Ochoa contemplated his future, he revealed there was one “eye opening” moment that propelled him to undergo FIFA’s extensive process. 

“I just looked back at my younger days, and what made me fall in love with the game first, which was obviously Mexico," he said exclusively to 90min. "And it felt weird when I was called up to the Nations League, obviously I am super grateful for what the US has given me. but It was a weird feeling playing that final against Mexico, when we won it, and seeing my idols right in front of my face. It was insane.

“It almost felt like it wasn’t fair for me, not want Mexico to win, because I was with the United States, but still kind of rooting for the guys that I looked up to. I still wanted Ochoa to play really well. It fair like it wasn’t fair for me so, that was the eye opener. Maybe I should just make my decision now, and work hard after to reach my goals.” 

Now, almost one year after announcing his loyalty to Mexico, Ochoa is living his dream of creating a bond with players he grew up watching. 

“It’s insane now, especially with the big names in MLS. Chicharito, Carlos Vela, it’s insane that those guys know me and I have conversations with them," he exclaimed. "We played LAFC two weeks ago, and I had Carlos Vela come up to me and ask me how I am, it’s unbelievable.

“It’s hard to explain. It’s something I never really imagined, but something I am very grateful for and I am glad this game has given me. With Ochoa too, like I said, he’s been my idol since I was five, six years old and he follows me on Instagram, and we’ve talked before. It’s pretty cool.”

Since making the switch, Ochoa has seen some activity with El Tri. The player featured for Mexico’s Under-21 side in a friendly against the Romanian Under-21 team, and earned his first call up by head coach Gerardo Martino for the game against Guatemala in April 2022. 

At only 21-years-old, Ochoa has a long future ahead of him with both club and country.