'Gringo' in Chivas' midst (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday February 20, 2008 2:09PM; Updated: Wednesday February 20, 2008 2:09PM
Two years ago, Padilla spent a portion of the preseason with Chivas USA. However, instead of being a part of former coach (and current U.S. national-team manager) Bob Bradley's squad, Padilla went back down to Mexico to the club he joined as a 14-year-old.
Padilla has long been tagged as a can't-miss prospect. His talents are unquestionable, said U.S. Under-20 national team coach Thomas Rongen.
"He's potentially a very good player," Rongen said. "He's interesting -- he's got the Mexican technique, but he's got American upbringing. He's got a big frame for a Mexican player. He's a rare combination of skill with a lot of power. I think that eventually, somewhere ... [he] will play some significant time and contribute. He's still young."
Rongen tried unsuccessfully to recruit Padilla for the Under-20 national team last year, but he claimed Chivas officials pressured Padilla to decline the invite. De la Torre, though, said declining the invite was Padilla's choice.
Similar pressure may have led to the premature exit of the previous American-born player to suit up for Chivas. Some 10 years ago, Mascareño was revealed to have been born in Silver Springs, Md. The fallout from the fans was swift, a former teammate recalled.
"We all thought he was 100 percent Mexican but I didn't know that, I believe, he was born here in the United States," said current Chivas USA captain and former Guadalajara icon Claudio Suárez. "In Guadalajara, there is a great passion for the club and some bring up 'because they only play with Mexican players.' So there was the conflict with the fans who did not want Mascareño to play there anymore."
Mascareño debuted with Puebla in '91 and played for Atlante and Atlas before joining Chivas. While his American birth did little to affect his status in Mexican soccer -- he went on to play four more years in the first division -- it effectively signaled the end of his stint with Chivas.
"More than anything, it was the fans," Suárez said. "Guadalajara has a grand tradition built up over many years. It's the club that has won the most titles in Mexican soccer. There are a lot of people who ... did not take that kindly."
Padilla is not the only American-born player currently plying his trade in Mexico. Sonny Guadarrama of Morelia, Michael Orozco of San Luis and Edgar Castillo of Santos were all born in the U.S. Castillo has even earned several call-ups to the Mexican national team.
But neither Guadarrama, Orozco nor Castillo would likely be welcome in Guadalajara.
"I think that would be difficult to change," Suárez said. "I don't know if some club official would ever try to change that, to bring in a naturalized player. I doubt it. Guadalajara fans are very demanding, very tough and very faithful. I believe you cannot lose those types of values. That's why Guadalajara is considered the most beloved club in Mexico."
-- Additional reporting by Andrea Canales
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