CARSON, Calif. – When Chivas USA held a press conference last week to announce the signing of Dan Kennedy to a contract extension, club icon Francisco "Paco" Palencia was front and center. He led off with a few opening remarks – both in English and Spanish – before passing the mic to president José David.
Afterward, Palencia was asked why he hasn't been introduced to the local media in a press conference of his own. The former Chivas USA striker smirked.
"It’s an invisible job, but I like it," Palencia told reporters. "I enjoy it very much simply because I’m still involved in soccer."
Palencia was hired as the club's director of soccer in mid-March and formally introduced to the media in Guadalajara, which might explain the silence on this side of the border. Yet, when he finally met with reporters, he made sure to clarify his responsibilities.
"As the director of soccer, I have to be with the first team and be with Chelís to talk about soccer, players, positional needs and tactics," Palencia said. "We each have our opinions, so we meet. One of my duties is to oversee the academy.
"We have a good line of communication. Every day, we talk before and after training. I’m at training every day analyzing and then we chat in the locker room. We see what our needs are. At the moment, we’re all working together so Chivas USA keeps moving in the right direction. We want to be leaders in this league."
By utilizing players from sister club CD Guadalajara and vice versa, Palencia and other front-office members believe success in both leagues is possible.
That's the idea, at least.
"We have a sea of possibilities that we hope to take advantage of to benefit both teams," Palencia said.
His vision for Chivas USA, a team he played for from 2005-06, carries more of a long-term outlook. Head coach José Luis "El Chelís" Sánchez Solá has maintained a similar stance during his short tenure.
The project began when Dennis te Kloese arrived to manage operations. It gained traction with Chelís' hire and, now, Palencia looks to provide his valuable input.
"The academy had been pushed to the side," Palencia said. "We're turning that around and re-establishing the identity. We’re on the right path."