Chivas USA recruits introduced in NYC
It seemed to be the perfect place to unveil the star they call "Paco": Times Square, the crossroads of the world.
But if Juan Francisco Palencia has plans to dominate Major League Soccer, his first strike was a quiet one. The fiery forward with the blue polished fingernails was a bit reserved when he, offensive midfielder Juan Pablo Garcia, midfielder Hector "Pirata" Castro and goalkeeper Sergio "Matute" Garcia were introduced as the newest members of expansion side Chivas USA on Friday afternoon at ESPN Zone.
"It's another challenge in my life," Palencia said. "I've been the big thing in Mexico so we want Chivas to become a big thing in the MLS."
Yes, Paco, who has a well documented feud with equally temperamental Mexican national team manager Ricardo La Volpe, was quiet. It was Juan Pablo Garcia who made the boldest statements.
"I think the most important thing is to show what I've got here in MLS, to use this as an opportunity to show that I deserve to be in the national team and that I can even play in other leagues abroad, which is my dream," he said. "To do that, I essentially have to be the best in this league and that's the goal that I set for myself."
All four players, who have been training with Chivas for two weeks and were finally able to be signed when the transfer window opened Aug. 15, are available for Chivas' next game -- at the MetroStars on Sunday. And Palencia, Juan Pablo Garcia and Castro could possibly start.
Palencia played for Cruz Azul and Guadalajara in Mexico and Espanyol in Spain. He has started 259 of the 278 games he played in the Mexican Primera Division, scoring 97 goals and 33 assists. He also had 55 yellow cards and three red cards.
He was offered a spot on the MLS team that will face Real Madrid in the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu on Aug. 23 but declined it.
"As much as that is a match to be enjoyed, I definitely was excited about the possibility of it," Palencia said. "But with all the things that I need to be sure to take care of to make sure that I get adjusted to the United States, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I could have."
Juan Pablo Garcia comes from Atlas in Mexico, where he made his professional debut in 2000. He has played 116 games in the Mexican Primera Division, scoring 26 goals and assisting on 11 others.
Most recently he was called up by Lavolpe to play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and was a member of the Mexican 2004 Olympic squad.
Castro, who can play either defensive midfield or central defense, started his career with Chivas and also played for Monterrey and Monarcas Morelia. He has logged a total of 275 games in the Mexican first division - starting 220 - and has a total of 12 goals.
The third player to go from Chivas to Chivas is goalkeeper Sergio Garcia, who made his debut for the famed Mexican side in the 2005 InterLiga tournament. At the Mexican brother side, he was a third-string goalkeeper behind Oswaldo Sanchez and Alfredo Talavera.
He is the least likely among the foursome to get significant playing time for Chivas, but that doesn't mean he's not happy to be in MLS.
"I do have a good goalkeeper in front of me, but I'm here to give my absolute best," Sergio Garcia said. "If he is the one who is called to play, then I give him all of my support and if I'm the one who is called to play, then I will give it my all, to show what I'm made of as a player."
To make room for the signings, which Chivas co-owner and president Antonio Cue said would have been considered the biggest by any club back in Mexico, the club Monday released Aaron Lopez and Alfonso Loera. That, along with the imminent retirement of Martin Zuniga and waiving Ryan Suarez, allowed Chivas to make the quadruple signing.
The four players will occupy senior roster spots, with Palencia the lone senior international. Sergio Garcia and Castro are youth internationals.
Despite sitting on a league-worst 12 points entering Sunday's game and 16 points out of the fourth and final playoff spot with nine games left, Chivas believes the playoffs are still a possibility -- especially with their new signings.
"We analyzed the team I think two months ago and for us it was clear that we were not good enough to play an important role in this competition," Chivas coach Hans Westerhof said. "So we had to do two things, first was to work hard to raise our level from the group that was already there but we knew that it was not enough to be one of the best teams in MLS."
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.