It is hard to believe that 3 years ago, the only European club that would even touch Memo Ochoa was Ajaccio. He did have that little Clenbuterol issue (where he was exonerated), but more importantly, who was going to take a chance on a guy who had been to two World Cups for his country and seen 0 minutes?
But Memo wanted to go to Europe a huevo. Ajaccio said yes, and for three seasons his goal was assualted with the relentlessness one would expect for a team that rarely strayed from the relegation zone. He led Ligue 1 in goals against. But he also led Ligue 1 in saves, and was the only reason Ajaccio survived as long as it did. They were finally relegated at the end of this past season.
Ochoa didn't have to go to Corsica. He had a more than comfortable life in Mexico City. He had plenty of endorsement contracts, and probably would have gotten more had he stayed at Club America. But he had that dream, the dream that more and more Mexican players are having, of proving himself at the highest level. Liga MX pays very well, especially if one plays for one of the bigger clubs. Years ago, some Mexican players wouldn't entertain offers to go abroad. To test themselves. To see if they can play at that higher level. Not when they had the cushy gig at home.
There was no level higher than the Castelao in Fortaleza against that team. The team that represents a country where passion and religion aren't strong enough metaphors to describe their love affair with the sport we all love. His numerous point blank saves against Brazil were the reason he was the Man of the Match. The reason Mexico held Brazil to scoreless tie. And the reason his agent's voicemail is full.
Before the World Cup, there was a lot of doubt whether or not Memo would even be part of the team. Piojo was not familiar with him, and he had two of his guys. On of those, Moises Munoz, helped Herrera win hi only title. But he was left off the list. The other, Jesus Corona, not only had a past with Piojo, but he was also the media's anointed starter. All they saw in Memo's stats were the goals against. Oh, and he doesn't play well with his feet, according to some.
Memo impressed, and impressed a lot in the lead up to the tourney. So much so, he supplanted the chosen one, Jesus Corona, by the last tune-up game. Sure, they split time, but that was more of courtesy last look for Chuy than another tryout for Memo.
He impressed Herrera enough to name him starter. Tonight Memo Ochoa impressed the world.