CARSON, Calif. — This season has not always been an easy one for Francisco “Panchito” Mendoza.
One of the most celebrated players in team history and a Chivas USA original, Mendoza returned to the Rojiblancos during the preseason after an unsuccessful stint in Mexico. He’s appeared in seven matches in his second go-round with the club, but hasn’t started since the season opener against Sporting Kansas City in March.
Mendoza, though, appears set to start in Wednesday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps (10:30 pm ET, Watch online) after first-choice starter Jorge Flores was given a red card in last Saturday’s 3-3 draw against the Columbus Crew.
For a player that expected to play a great a larger role this season, Mendoza is pleased to have an opportunity once again start for the Rojiblancos.
“It's a great opportunity for myself and for those that haven't had much activity, it's a good opportunity to show ourselves,” Mendoza told MLSsoccer.com. “At the end of the day we're a team and we're all going to be looking for a win.”
While Mendoza has not seen the field as much as he may have liked, it has not stopped Mendoza from bypassing Sacha Kljestan for second in Chivas USA’s all-time appearance list with 119. The winger — who already holds the distinction of earning the most appearances among Mexicans in MLS history — sits just four appearances from tying Jonathan Bornstein’s all-time record for appearances for Chivas USA.
Mendoza admits that he has been frustrated with his lack of playing time compared to his golden years with the club from 2005-08, but remains motivated to once again make an impact with the Goats.
“I have to do is keeping working and sooner or later an opportunity will come, and I think that [the Vancouver match] is that opportunity,” he said. “To tell you the truth, since I came here, I haven't talked to [head coach Robin Fraser] that much, but as I say all the time, he's the one in charge of the team and like a professional, I have to be disciplined and keep going forward always.”
While Mendoza is dealing with his frustrations, Fraser is blunt with the situation that Mendoza and all of those that find themselves on the Chivas USA bench — that there are no guaranteed spots and everyone must fight to earn their spot on his club.
"There are competitions for positions every day, no one has a guaranteed spot and everyone has just a good enough chance as anyone else,” Fraser said. “It's been a battle for sure, and he's certainly played well, so he's deserved an opportunity."
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano