Sammy Ochoa is a proven scorer in the USL and it was smart for Las Vegas to bring him back.
This week, Las Vegas Lights FC announced their initial roster moves for the 2019 season. Among the five players returning, striker Sammy Ochoa has received the most feedback from supporters in Las Vegas. Despite finishing as the second leading scorer in the team’s inaugural season, fans are not pleased with the decision to bring him back.
Let me start by saying this, I thought Ochoa should have been benched during a portion of last season, especially early on, and we actually had a Twitter disagreement about a play vs. Colorado Springs during his rough patch. He was frustrated, not converting his chances, and the club’s attack was stagnant. The big target man was doing a lot of things well like holding up play, winning the ball in the air, and distributing well in the attack. However, as a striker, your job is to find the back of the net and he was not doing that early on. Sammy will be the first person to tell you that he needed to convert more consistently and he finally started to turn things around in the summer.
Once the club started to add more talented players in their midseason roster purge, especially in the attack, Ochoa’s productivity increased. He finished the season with eight goals and seven assists. Despite being in his early 30’s, his pressure on the opposing back line and overall work rate were top notch. While fans could criticize his finishing at times, they could not doubt his effort and commitment.
Is Ochoa an elite striker in the USL? In my opinion, no. But, he is absolutely above average and a steady option that knows the league very well. He always hovers right around double digits in goals and contributes valuable assists as well. In 2019, Ochoa can be a valuable piece to a Lights FC side that should be much improved under the leadership of Eric Wynalda, who quickly mentioned Ochoa as a key piece moving forward during his initial interviews. Whether Ochoa is the workhorse, consistent starter again or platoons the position with a newcomer, I think it was an easy decision to bring back a hardworking, proven veteran to help the club’s 2019 attack.