If this was 2007, Chivas USA’s acquisition of Adolfo Bautista would be worth more than skepticism. Two years into their existence, the Carson-based club would be adding a Guadalajara star to squad coming off its first playoff appearance. Instead of ending his first there years with Chivas by moving to Chiapas, “El Bofo” would instead become the face of the Rojiblancos’s Major League Soccer venture, helping Brad Guzan, Sacha Kljestan, and Jonathan Bornstein while creating for the likes of Maykel Galindo and Ante Razov.
Instead, Bautista is coming to Major League Soccer in 2014, where a former star who has not played in the Mexican first division since 2011 is being given another shot. Set to turn 35 in May, Bautista was announced as Chivas USA’s latest signing on Tuesday, the man who helped Guadalajara to a league title and Copa Libertadores final set to extend his career in MLS.
Having most recently playing in the Mexican second division, it’s difficult to see Bautista as anything but a glamour signing – a fledgling team’s hope that a semi-cult hero can bring some Mexican league fans to StubHub Center. Chivas (and Chivas USA) fans will be excited about an icon’s arrival just as El Bofo will be motivated by the faint opportunity to play his way back to Estadio Omnilife.
But given what Bautista’s shown on the field in recent years, a route to the big club is unlikely to materialize. El Bofo did make the Mexican World Cup team in 2010, but one year later he had played his last game in Guadalajara, eventually moving on to Querétaro. After one tournament with the Gallos Blancos, Bautista was done, eventually relegated to the sidelines for 2012.
In August, after not playing a professional game in 20 months, Bautista surfaced with San Luis in Ascenso MX, making 16 appearance between league and Copa matches. Scoring only once, however, Bautista failed to improve on performances that saw him depart Chivas and Querétaro, leaving him with only four goals since he joined Javier Aguirre’s team in South Africa.
Perhaps a move to a new league can revitalize Bautista’s career, but set to turn 35 in May, that’s unlikely. Instead, the 38-time Mexican international’s true value will likely be at the turnstiles, with Chivas USA able to leverage El Bofo’s Guadalajara legacy to draw fans to Carson.