ZAPOPAN, Jalisco, México - The coaching staff and six U.S.-based players of Club Deportivo Chivas USA embarked Monday on the young squad's first trip to Mexico, where until December 19 they will spend two weeks of education, group work and training alongside several of the Mexican-based players who are join Club Deportivo Chivas USA.
The trip gives Head Coach Thomas Rongen and assistant Javier "Zully" Ledesma a chance to lay the foundations of physical fitness and teamwork that are to underlie the team's inaugural Major League Soccer campaign starting in April 2005.
Departing on Monday morning from Southern California, the group composed of Rongen, Ledesma, Director of Soccer Dennis te Kloese, MLS veterans Antonio de la Torre, Francisco Gómez, Orlando Pérez, Matt Taylor, Arturo Torres and Jamil Walker and Equipment Manager Raúl Guerrero received well-wishes from Chivas and non-Chivas fans alike at Los Angeles International Airport, before boarding the three-hour flight to Guadalajara.
Upon arrival in the city known as "the Pearl of Jalisco," the group was met by Hans Westerhoff, Club Deportivo Guadalajara's Director of Football. They were then transported to their hotel in the Avenida Vallarta in the western suburb of Zapopan, for an evening of rest before Tuesday's training.
They next day at Club Deportivo Guadalajara's lush Verde Valle campus, players and coaching staff were met by the club's President Ivar Sisniega, who in a brief speech in both Spanish and English expressed to Mexican- and American-based players alike his belief in Club Deportivo Chivas USA and his expectation that all the team's players would come to master the languages of both Cervantes and Shakespeare.
The morning's two-hour training session, conducted by Rongen, Ledesma and Westerhoff, focused on ball possession and physical conditioning. Present alongside the six MLS veterans were Mexican players Omar Aguayo, Jorge Barrera, Armando Bejines, Edwin Borboa, Sergio García, Alfonso Loera, Jonny Magallón, Manolo Martínez, Francisco Mendoza, Ramón Ramírez, Isaac Romo, Hugo Rivera, Alonso Sandoval y Martín Zúñiga as well as several dozen members of the local, national and foreign press.
On Tuesday evening, the players were to attend a reception and press conference with Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara at the site of the New Stadium that is to be built for Club Deportivo Guadalajara on the western edge of Zapopan. Wednesday it's back to work, as two-a-day sessions begin at Verde Valle, with training scheduled for 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. local (Central) time.