Francisco Mendoza could earn his first start for Chivas de Guadalajara in tonight's InterLiga game against Tigres at Home Depot Center. He stands to have a shot of more action on Sunday should Chivas advance to the final.
If I'm a betting man, I'm guessing this will be the only time we'll see him around HDC this year.
Mendoza has long stated that he has a contract with Chivas USA but a source explained otherwise. Chivas de Guadalajara can take Panchito back when they see fit, and they don't even need to ask for permission.
Officials from Chivas Mexico are in the Southland for InterLiga and will hammer out Panchito's future over the course of the next few days... if it hasn't been hammered out already. If Chivas wants him, they will take him, and from what coach Efrain Flores has said the club wants him.
What could stop Chivas from nabbing themselves a left-sided midfielder? A poor showing tonight, for one. A bad attitude for two. But since Panchito has never shown anything close to a bad attitude, it probably will come down to how he plays tonight, again if the decision hasn't been made.
Chivas of course is fairly loaded and have a deep midfield. But the club struggled last season, did not reach the playoffs and Flores is lucky to have survived the offseason. Newcomers Aaron Galindo, Amaury Ponce and Carlos Ochoa have already been brought in to reinforce the team but injuries to Jonny Magallon and Omar Arellano threaten to deplete the team ahead of the Clausura 2009 season. Thus, Flores might feel the need to bring Mendoza - who has been fairly injury-free during his career in MLS - to use as an option off the bench and an occasional starter.
I'd say a possible heir apparent to Ramon Morales but I don't think Mendoza has the potential to be as good as Morales has been. Mendoza is a fine player and a solid starter for Chivas USA. His problem throughout his career has been his lack of aggression. He doesn't score much, in fact had zero goals a year ago. But he showed he could play defense as he spent part of last season at left back - which to be fair to Mendoza also contributed to his lack of goals.
Still, Mendoza has always been a bit tentative around the goal and his long-distance shot is nonexistent. But playing for Chivas, the club of his dreams near his hometown of El Salto, might have ignited a fire under him and we might see a brand-new Panchito Mendoza tonight.
Whatever kind of player we see, though, we'll probably see him only on television in 2009.