CARSON, CA - MAY 21: Good luck, Panchito! (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Today's player in our ongoing season reviews is Francisco Mendoza. 2011 was Panchito's second stint with the Goats, and this one was far less successful than the first. He had 12 appearances on the season, including two starts, but surely given the expectations many fans had surrounding his return to the club, he didn't really get the run out many anticipated. It seemed he never really had the trust of Robin Fraser, and as a result, Mendoza was off the team entirely by September. Never say never, but it looks unlikely at the moment there will be a third tour for Mendoza with Chivas USA.
Since Mendoza primarily came off the bench this season, he had a tough time really contributing in 281 minutes. He had no goals and two assists on the season, both of which came in Chivas' victories. The first came on Nick LaBrocca's goal against the San Jose Earthquakes on July 6, and then on Justin Braun's third goal against the Houston Dynamo on July 23. His assist in the San Jose victory in particular garnered some attention, and it seemed he may have a chance to establish himself with the Goats in midseason. But since he seldom played, it was unclear if he wasn't getting a fair shot or if he just wasn't very good. We'll have to see what happens from here in his career to find out.
I do think that the timing of Panchito's release was pretty bad. He was released in early September ahead of the final roster move deadline of September 15, most likely for financial reasons (they wouldn't have to pay out his salary for the year), but perhaps the team really wanted to sign a player. In the end, nobody was brought into the team, and Mendoza was dropped like a hot potato right before he hit a significant milestone. In the weeks leading up to his release, the Chivas public relations people were touting Mendoza's anticipated record number of appearances for Chivas, a record held by Jonathan Bornstein at 123. Mendoza tied Bornstein's mark, and then was dropped from the team. Now, I don't think a player should be included in the lineup just to make a record, but given the fact that the team was making a fuss about him breaking the appearance record, then cut him before he actually broke it, was pretty shady. The fact that he was never really discussed again around the club may indicate there was some interpersonal friction behind the scenes, but still, I think the whole incident could have been handled with a lot more class.
Since his release, Panchito has been on trial with at least one MLS team, but no announcements have been made yet. Perhaps he'll find a new team in the league in the next few months, or maybe he will return to Mexico. He was a fan favorite at the Home Depot Center, but like I said, don't expect to see him back anytime soon. Nonetheless, we wish him the best.