Forward Palencia to return to MLS in 2006
CARSON, Calif. -- Chivas USA officially announced Friday that marquee forward Juan Francisco 'Paco' Palencia will return in 2006 for the club's second campaign in Major League Soccer.
The announcement was made during a conference call featuring Chivas USA President and co-owner Antonio Cué and head coach Bob Bradley, as well as Palencia himself. Palencia joins fellow Mexican internationals Ramón Ramírez and Juan Pablo García as Chivas USA's three returning Senior International players for the 2006 season. Per league and team policy, contract details were not revealed.
"When we decided that Bob Bradley was going to be Chivas USA's next head coach, we were looking for someone with ample experience in Major League Soccer. But we also needed to take advantage of those players who had already been with us and who also know the league. That's why it's an honor to be able to announce the return of the majority of our senior Mexican players, starting with Paco Palencia," said Cué.
"I'm really excited that Paco, Juan Pablo and Ramón will all be back with Chivas USA this year. I enjoyed working with them for a few weeks when I first arrived here, and I think we are all excited about the challenge of making Chivas USA a very good team," said Bradley.
"First of all, I'm very happy to return to MLS. It's great that everything came together so that we can continue working together on this project [Chivas USA]. It's very important for us to have a good season, and I hope this year will be a year of success for all of us," said Palencia.
Palencia joined Chivas USA on August 19, 2005, from sister team Club Deportivo Guadalajara. The striker made an immediate impact, scoring two goals the following weekend in 3-3 draw against the MetroStars at Giants Stadium. In just nine games with Chivas USA, Palencia would go on to register three goals and one assist - as well as 15 shots on goal, placing him second on the team in this category.
Immediately prior to his arrival at Chivas USA, Palencia played a key role for Guadalajara in the 2005 Copa Libertadores, registering five goals and one assist in Chivas' storybook run to the semifinals of the prestigious South American club tournament. Having arrived at Chivas in 2003 as one of the biggest signings of the Jorge Vergara era, Palencia quickly established himself as a fan favorite, registering 13 goals and 16 assists in 73 regular-season and playoff games, while becoming one of Guadalajara's most passionate and vocal leaders.
Palencia made his first-division debut in 1994 for Cruz Azul, the club whose youth ranks he joined as 13-year-old. Following a stellar performance for Cruz Azul during the 2001 Copa Libertadores -- in which Palencia captained the Mexico City club, making Cruz Azul the first (and only) Mexican team to reach the Libertadores final -- Palencia joined Spanish First Division club Espanyol of Barcelona (2001-2002), where he scored five goals in 26 matches before to joining the Mexican national team at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.
Since making his full Mexican national team debut in Dallas, Texas on June 8, 1996 against Bolivia, Palencia has amassed more than 75 caps with El Tri, scoring 10 goals and playing in two World Cups (1998 and 2002). He has also represented Mexico in three Gold Cups (1996, 1998 and 2003), three Copas América (1997, 1999 and 2004) and two Confederations Cups (1997 and 1999, the latter on Mexico's championship-winning team), as well as the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Born on April 28, 1973 in Mexico City, Palencia currently resides in Los Angeles.
Chivas USA, Major League Soccer's Mexican-owned, Los Angeles-based franchise, kicks off its second campaign in MLS on April 2, 2006 versus Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California.