Sammy Ochoa was one of three Sounders who scored goals in Seattle’s 3-1 MLS Reserve League win over San Jose this week.
The result moved the Western Division-champion Sounders FC reserves to 8-1 on the season. However, the individual performances may have more lasting impact as the front office looks ahead to the 2012 season.
“You want to see people get better,” coach Sigi Schmid said Wednesday. “ Sometimes a player only gets one year, but sometimes you give a player two years. If there hasn’t been enough improvement in two years, sometimes we’ll decide to invest that time in somebody else.
“Certainly seeing the reserve games (indicates) how people react under pressure. It’s great to be able to play the reserve games at night with a crowd and all that because it makes it a truer test not only soccer-wise, but psychologically, and who can deal with that. That helps you evaluate players.”
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None of those who scored against San Jose is in that crucial second season. Nate Jaqua is a nine-year veteran, who has started seven MLS games this season; while Michael Tetteh is a rookie still awaiting his first MLS minute.
Meanwhile, Ochoa, who was acquired at midseason, is still building game fitness. After averaging 26 minutes in his first two MLS appearances, he started and played 74 minutes against the Earthquakes reserves on Monday.
“The reserve game was the first time we were able to push him over a period of time,” Schmid said. “I think his effectiveness probably went down after the 60-minute mark or so. It’s definitely coming around for Sammy.”
Ochoa thinks so, too.
“It felt good to get a chance to play and play more than 25 minutes and get the victory here at home and get it going,” he said. “I think I could have gone for more time, but (Sounders assistant Ezra Hendrickson) decided to take me out. But I feel good. I’m feeling good at practice, and those 75 minutes I played, and I’m getting ready for whatever time Sigi gives me.”
Ochoa is a 25-year-old forward from Riverside, Calif., who played for Schmid on the United States’ 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup team. He signed with the Sounders on Aug. 26 after five seasons with Estudiantes Tecos of Guadalajara, Mexico.
While preparing his body, he also says he is adjusting to the differences of Major League Soccer in general and Sounders FC in particular.
“It’s more professionalism,” he said. “ The training days, every day it’s 100 percent. I wasn’t used to that. It’s good getting those training sessions 100 percent, getting that extra push from the coaches. You don’t get that in Mexico. It’s been really good this time I’ve been here. Hopefully I can stay and bring more to the team.”
And he doesn’t want to wait for next season to do it.
“I think I could bring some stuff to the team in these last games,” he said. “I know the season is about to be over. But the playoffs are coming up. And you never know: I could go in in the last 10 minutes and get a goal for the team. I’m still looking at trying to finish the year off with a partial good season and come back next year and get better.”
Schmid hedged on his earlier comment that midfielder Mauro Rosales (knee) will appear in the final two league games as preparation for the playoffs. Schmid said if Rosales can’t go Saturday against San Jose, then the regular-season finale at Chivas USA will have to do. Meanwhile, Schmid said defender Jeff Parke (concussion) could be cleared for full practice today.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer