Real Salt Lake has traded embattled 21-year old goalkeeper David Ochoa to DC United for a guaranteed $75k in General Allocation Money (GAM), with many other caveats in the trade based on Ochoa re-signing with DC or any potential future transfers/trades.
With Ochoa out of contract at season's end, both teams have protections in the deal based on what happens with whether DC re-signs Ochoa this offseason. If he does re-sign with DC then RSL will receive an additional $300k in GAM ($150k in each of 2023 and 2024). RSL would also retain a 25% sell-on fee if DC re-signs Ochoa and then transfers him to a team outside of MLS in the future.
Also, if DC turns around and transfers Ochoa to a club outside MLS later this season then RSL receives an additional $300k in 2023 GAM. So...RSL could receive as little as $75k in GAM, or as much as 375K in GAM (plus potentially any money from the sell-on fee). A lot of it depends on whether Ochoa re-signs with DC this offseason.
The Ochoa situation, and trade, features more layers than an onion. Ochoa is talented and features a lot of potential. A year ago he seemed like one of the top young goalkeepers in MLS. He has however seemingly worked his way out of RSL's plans due to a damaged relationship with the club, which has seen him not appear in any matches so far this season. This led to speculation that a move was coming, and RSL has ultimately found a trade partner in DC.
Last year, Ochoa started 25 matches for RSL in goal where he kept five clean sheets, while making 67.5% of his saves. He made 83 total saves on the year.
There's also the contract aspect of the move. Ochoa is reportedly out of contract at year's end (although he is not eligible for MLS free agency, so he was not included in my look at RSL's eligible FA's from last week). Him being out of contract complicates things greatly because Ochoa could leave and sign just about anywhere at season's end. That was a risk RSL was, and DC now is, taking.
I think DC is a good fit for Ochoa. They are re-shaping their roster under Wayne Rooney and Ochoa fits their timeline age-wise (although maybe not contract-wise). DC is also now without their incumbent starting keeper in Bill Hamid (who is currently out injured). Ochoa gives them a player ready to play now who could turn into the long-term answer at the position if he plays well and they can work out a new contract.
How much allocation money RSL actually eventually gets in return will go a long way in determining how this move is viewed. It is also interesting to see just what Ochoa's trade value was. The amount of Allocation Money will also determine what RSL will be able to do with it.
While I think this trade is probably fair for all sides involved...nevertheless, neither RSL nor Ochoa can be happy with how things turned out over the last 8-12 months with their relationship devolving. Having things turn sour like the way things did when it comes to a player who was viewed as a potential star in the making in goal for RSL is never a good feeling. However, Ochoa now gets a fresh start and RSL now gets some assets to help improve the team.
Ochoa was a homegrown player for RSL. He joined RSL's academy as a teenager. He signed his homegrown contract with RSL in late 2018. Ochoa played for Real Salt Lake's USL affiliate, Real Monarchs, in 2019 and 2020. He then emerged as RSL's starting keeper last season. He's had issues in the past, such as purposefully kicking a ball into the stands during a match last season, but this year things took a turn.
The thing is...is that what the turn was and what caused it is almost completely shrouded in mystery. No one really knows what has happened between RSL and Ochoa that has caused him to fall out of favor (it's not like he struggled last season). Then comments from several weeks ago from Ochoa came out of him saying that he was being forced to train by himself and away from the team just added to the oddity of the situation. Nevertheless, it now appears that there is at least some clarity to the situation with this trade.
Ochoa is a very talented young player, but he and RSL just seemed destined for divorce this season for whatever reason. There is now at least clarity to the situation and everyone can now move on.