The Lights FC coaching staff preached patience with striker Samuel Ochoa after he failed to score in the team’s first 10 regular-season games, confident things would soon go his way.
Just three matches later, the 31-year-old is making his coaches look prophetic.
Ochoa scored twice Saturday night against Seattle Sounders FC 2, helping the Lights win 4-1 in front of 6,785 fans at Cashman Field. He became the first player in team history to score twice in a single game, and also picked up an assist on the night.
“Hopefully, it just keeps on going,” Ochoa said.
His first goal came in the 17th minute after he made a run in the box and the ball was deflected to him. Sounders 2 goalkeeper Calle Brown came out of the net to challenge the shot, but ended up deflecting the ball behind him and giving Ochoa the entire net to shoot at.
The two met again in the 35th minute when Ochoa bounced a Brown goal kick off his chest and into the net to give his team a 2-0 lead.
”Most of the goalies, they have trouble with the ball so I pressured and luckily it went in,” Ochoa said.
The striker now has three goals and two assists in the Lights’ (4-5-4) last four matches, and his impact has helped the team’s entire attack come alive. The club has 10 goals in the three matches Ochoa has scored or assisted in, and nine in the other 10.
Defender Joel Huiqui increased the Lights’ lead to 3-0 in the 43rd minute, and Zach Mathers scored off a pass from Ochoa in the 49th. It was Mathers’ first goal with the team and it came against his former club, as he made 48 appearances for the Sounders 2 (3-8-2) the past two seasons.
In addition, the Lights received solid goalkeeping from Rancho product Angel Alvarez, who made his United Soccer League debut thanks to Ricardo Ferrino’s one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. Alvarez recorded six saves and an assist, with only Ray Saari’s goal for the Sounders 2 near the end of the first half marring his performance.
“(Technical director Jose Luis Sanchez Sola) came to practice (Friday), pulled me to the side and told me that he was going to give me his confidence to play,” Alvarez said. “He wanted me to take advantage of my opportunity and do the best with it and that’s what I did.”
Ferrino’s punishment wasn’t the only one hanging over the match, as it marked the beginning of Sola’s eight-game suspension for making contact with a fan.
The team picked up its first win in five matches without Sola on the touchline, as it went 0-2-2 during his previous four-game suspension for referee abuse.
“When the lion is hurt, then (comes) the commitment, then (comes) the desire to do the things,” coach Isidro Sanchez said.