Quite a bit was asked of 2016 signing David Ochieng this year. The center back positions were a revolving door for the club all season. Carlos Mendes and Roversio were hampered by injuries, as was Jimmy Ockford. Hunter Freeman filled in for a while before being transferred to Miami FC. All were called upon to fill in as needed. It was no different for the Kenyan international.
Cheche made 11 starts in 13 NASL appearances this year for the club, contributing an assist. He also made an appearance in the US Open Cup was called upon in The Championship Final as Roversio went down with yet another injury in the 59th minute and finished their title run on the field.
He also saw a return to the Kenyan national team this year. All in all, not a bad season for Ochieng, who previously played his last club match before the Cosmos at Al Taawon in Saudi Arabia in May of 2015.
“I feel so happy because it hasn’t been easy getting here and finally we are celebrating the championship. It is such a great night for me and the team,” the defender told Capital Sport recently.“I really had to work hard because coming into a new team and you are not at 100 percent is not something easy. I am happy because the coach was patient with me, he trusted me and my team mates also played a huge role in me gaining more confidence. I am happy to have finally broken into the team and this is just but a start.”
WIth the lack of a consistent center back pairing all season and the potential of some turnover, those words could be prophetic. Jimmy Ockford’s loan could mean his return to Seattle, the future of Carlos Mendes (36 in December) remains unclear, and one has to wonder what the repetitive injuries suffered by Roversio could mean for the Brazilian’s continued stay at the club.
Capital reports that Ochieng is close to landing another deal with the NASL champions and despite the club’s inability to keep Yasmani Duk for the Final, they were able to convince the Kenyan Federation to let him stay in New York, missing friendlies against Mozambique and Liberia.
Ochieng is looking to step up his game further in 2017 for both club and country.
“At this moment I feel I have gotten back to top form. The only way from here is up and I want to do better for the club and also for the national team.”