The mercurial Peruvian is currently playing in Mexico for Atlante after one season in Columbus. During his time in the black and gold, Mendoza managed to piss off every fan, coach, and player, all while scoring a team-high 13 goals. Five of those were penalties, including the one he “stole” from Jeff Cunningham. A successful season in Mendoza’s mind?
It wouldn’t take a genius to say that Mendoza didn’t necessarily enjoy his time in the bustling metropolis known as Columbus, Ohio. He often looked distraught on the field, and he didn’t take a particular liking to the fans, including the Nordecke. While most hated his antics, some loved his character. Who else on the team would show up at training (after taking the penalty many thought Cunningham was destined to take) with a shirt that read “Cold Mother****er”? Only Mendoza. And that is why he was such a polarizing figure. Heck, he even played part of the season with a big cast on his hand, yet people still hated him! Viva Mendoza.
Most Crew fans don’t have much to thank Mendoza for. But I bet they don’t know that without him, the Alejandro Moreno chant (and now the Emilio Renteria chant) might never have existed. Mendoza scored at the San Siro against AC Milan in a 1-0 UEFA Champions League victory for his Club Brugge team from Belgium in 2003 which brought the song to the soccer masses.
However, once arriving in Mexico for the 2012 Clausura, Mendoza became a new man! He has already scored two goals in his first four games south of the Mexico-U.S. border. I recently watched his Atlante take on Cruz Azul in the Mexican Primera División. Mendoza actually seemed happy to be on the field. He creepishly smiled and clapped at his teammates’ passes several times. When Atlante leveled the score in the 68th minute, Mendoza ran to the corner flag where he proceeded to celebrate with his teammates. No, your eyes didn’t just deceive you. Atlante managed to take the lead on a penalty kick in the 85th minute (which Mendoza was somehow okay with not taking), but the game ended in a 2-2 draw after a quick Cruz Azul equalizer.
While I don’t know if Mendoza’s baby-centric celebrations traveled with him to Mexico, I do know one thing; Viva Mendoza.