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'Gringo' in Chivas' midst

Is Padilla really Mexican? Truth may undermine club

Posted: Wednesday February 20, 2008 2:08PM; Updated: Wednesday February 20, 2008 2:08PM
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Jesús Padilla (in front of Landon Donovan during last summer's SuperLiga tournament) has more ties to the U.S. than most thought.
Jesús Padilla (in front of Landon Donovan during last summer's SuperLiga tournament) has more ties to the U.S. than most thought.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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Because of his ties to California, Chivas de Guadalajara forward Jesús Padilla earned the nickname "Gringo."

Turns out, there's more to his nickname than just his American upbringing, and the reality may cause some serious credibility problems for Chivas, a club whose massive support south of the border is in part thanks to its policy of fielding only Mexican-born players.

SI.com has learned that 20-year-old Padilla was, in fact, born in California and not in the Mexican state of Jalisco, as his bio on Chivas' Web site states. At any other club in Mexico, such a fact wouldn't be an issue. At Chivas, however, it's a big deal.

Chivas officials admitted uncertainty regarding his American birth when contacted by SI.com.

"He has both American and Mexican citizenship," Chivas vice president Nestor de la Torre said by phone. "I am not sure if he was born in the United States or in Mexico."

Efforts to reach Padilla and his family were unsuccessful.

Despite Chivas de Guadalajara's proud history, Padilla is actually the third American-born player to play for the legendary Mexican side. Maryland-born Gerardo Mascareño played for the team in the Verano '98 season, and when it was revealed he was actually American-born, it created waves among Chivas' fan support.

SI.com also confirmed the rumored American birth of Eduardo Fernández de la Garza, a goalkeeper who played 77 games for Chivas between '93 and '97 and was born on July 30, 1962, in El Paso County, Texas, according to documents obtained by SI.com.

As far as Padilla goes, de la Torre said he had documents stating the youngster's Mexican roots. "What I am certain is that he has Mexican paperwork, that he has Mexican citizenship," he said. "There aren't any false papers here. We have his paperwork here. Maybe he was born over there, I can't say for sure. But he is a Mexican citizen and we have a Mexican birth certificate."

The document obtained by SI.com, though, says otherwise. According to the birth certificate, Padilla was born on March 3, 1987, at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif. The document also shows his birth parents to be Andrés Padilla, born in Mexico, and mother Monique Denise Cisneros, native of California. Each was 21 years old at the time of their son's birth, according to the document.

A source close to both Chivas de Guadalajara and Chivas USA of Major League Soccer, though, told SI.com that officials from both clubs were "very much aware that he was born and raised in Northern California."

Padilla played the final 13 minutes in Chivas' 2-0 win over Bolivian side San José in Copa Libertadores play on Tuesday but has yet to play during the Clausura '08 season. He made his Mexican league debut for Chivas on Aug. 6, 2006, in a match at Toluca and has appeared in 11 regular-season games for Chivas since.

Domestically, Padilla has played almost exclusively for Chivas' second-division side, Tapatío, and has scored two goals. He has also seen time for Chivas in the Copa Sudamericana and SuperLiga tournaments.

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