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Jesus Padilla comes 'home' to Chivas USA
by Mike Woitalla, August 18th, 2009 11:45AM
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[MLS] Jesus Padilla, a 22-year-old California-born Mexican-American who left home at age 14 to join Chivas Guadalajara, has been acquired by Chivas USA on loan. Padilla, who plays in the midfield and on the frontline, spoke with Soccer America's Mike Woitalla after Padilla came on as a sub for Guadalajara in an exhibition against Barcelona in San Francisco earlier this month.

Padilla, who grew up in San Jose, Calif., made 24 first-team appearances with Guadalajara after his debut in August of 2006. He was the subject of controversy when it was revealed he wasn't born in Mexico, a self-imposed criteria by the club that is the only team in the Mexican league not to field foreign players. Guadalajara since redefined its policy, stating players with Mexican citizenship are eligible to wear the red-and-white stripes regardless of the birthplace. Padilla has Mexican and U.S. citizenship.

SOCCER AMERICA: Why didn't you join the U.S. U-20 national team camp when you were invited in 2007?

JESUS PADILLA: I couldn't go because of the Chivas Guadalajara rule about players having to be Mexican. I would have had to look for another team if I went to a U.S. national team camp. But you never know what might happen in the future.

SA: How did you adjust to living in Mexico after leaving home at such a young age?

I went straight from middle school to the pros, so that was a big change. It was tough at first, being away from my parents and my sisters. New roommates. It was hard. But I'm a friendly guy. I made friends. ... I got married in Mexico and have two children [19 months old & 7 months old). I love it.

SA: How did you connect with Chivas Guadalajara?

I went to a Chivas Guadalajara tournament as a guest player for Watsonville [Calif.] Chivas. We played against Guadalajara's youth team. They saw me and asked me to stay. My dad asked me what I wanted to become in life, and I said I wanted to play soccer. He said go to Mexico and see if your dream comes true. ...

SA: So you went to school in Guadalajara?

I lived in a dorm. We practiced in the morning. After we had lunch we'd go to school.

SA: Why did you opt to go to Mexico instead of pursuing a soccer career in the USA?

I wasn't that good in school, so I didn't think that college soccer was an option.

SA: What youth club did you play for in California?

I played for the Almaden Lasers. I also practiced with my dad's men's team, Jerez.


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