GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Chivas de Guadalajara striker Jesús Padilla is reveling in his club's recent Dutch coaching influx and is determined to work hard to get playing time.
The San Jose, Calif., native confirmed to MLSsoccer.com on Saturday that he is set to stay at the club for the upcoming season, after spending a year on loan at Liga de Ascenso side La Piedad, but recognizes that the fight for places with the Rojiblancos is intense.
“There's a lot of competition,” he said after Chivas' 3-1 preseason victory against Pumas UNAM on Saturday, in which he played the final four minutes. “They have a great school here at Guadalajara and it's not going to be easy. I've got to keep up the hard work and fight every day.”
Padilla was loaned out to sister club Chivas USA in 2009, scoring seven goals in 37 appearances, but returned to his Mexico-based parent club, who subsequently loaned him back out to La Piedad.
Now settled back in after Chivas' preseason tour to Europe, in which Padilla scored a goal, the 25-year-old has a found a club in the process of a Dutch transformation, led by advisor Johan Cruyff and coach John van't Schip.
“They are very great,” said Padilla. “They are the best in soccer, what can you say?”
Cruyff has visited Guadalajara twice since taking on the role in February and was present during the preseason tour in Spain. The former Ajax and Barcelona players has said his goal is to introduce a similar model at Chivas as he implemented in the much-lauded La Masia academy at FC Barcelona.
Padilla has nothing but praise for what the 1978 World Cup finalist has done so far at the club and admitted to hanging on his every word.
“He's a legend,” said Padilla. “Anything that comes from him we have to learn from.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.