Francisco "Panchito" Mendoza has traded in his red-and-white striped Chivas USA jersey for . . . the red-and-white striped jersey of Chivas de Guadalajara.
The explosive winger has been on loan at Chivas USA for the past four season. A Chivas USA original, he has racked up the most Major League starts for a Mexican-born player, not a bad record considering that he is only 23 years old.
Mendoza has been training with Guadalajara, and featured for them in
the 2009 InterLiga, which was hosted by Houston and Los Angeles. He
officially joins the squad ahead of their 2009 Clausura season.
"I'm very happy with the team," Mendoza told Goal.com exclusively. "They've treated me well since I've been with them. I'm looking forward to the season and playing in the Copa Libertadores.
"It's been a dream to be with this team. I believe it represents so much - it doesn't insult Chivas USA to say that Guadalajara has so much history. I'm happy with how I developed in MLS, though.
"I'll always have good memories of Chivas USA, but I live in the moment and what I'm focused on is doing my best in the current stage of my career."
After excelling as an unpredictable winger with good close ball control, Mendoza moved a slot deeper on the left flank to the fullback position in 2008. Injuries plagued Chivas USA, and with USA international Jonathan Bornstein out, the Mexican slotted into the defense and performed admirably.
That willingness to suffer for the team and unstinting work ethic will be what head coach Preki Radosavljevic will miss next season.
"Pancho has a great mentality and he learned to compete in a tough
league during his time here with Chivas USA," said Preki. "Chivas de Guadalajara are
getting a talented young player and we hope he does well for them."
Chivas USA moved to compensate for the loss of Mendoza in the Superdraft, trading a pick to the Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for Ante Jazic, the experienced Canadian defender who can play on the left flank as well.
--Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com