After nine seasons in Major League Soccer and an MLS Cup title, Jorge Villafana is off to a new challenge.
The one-time Chivas USA player, who just capped off a successful two-year stint with the Portland Timbers over the weekend, has officially been sold to Liga MX side Santos Laguna and was presented to the fans and media on Saturday morning in Torreon.
"The main reason we are here, Jorge, is for your football performance," Santos vice president Alberto Canedo said. "We have been following your career, and of course the title won with Portland is your cover letter."
"I want to thank Club Santos and all the people who kept an eye on me to come here as a new player," Villafaña said on Saturday. "I'm looking forward to starting great things here. The reason I was happy to come is because it's a club that is always in the playoffs, it has several titles, and it's not just any club. I was interested and I was very excited when I heard there was interest from them, so it wasn't difficult to say yes.
"I made my debut in MLS but I lived in Mexico and grew up watching Mexican soccer; now this is a next step and I am content to come here to play in a league of good standard. Hopefully things go well; this means a lot to me, personally."
Villafaña, of course, won the inaugural "Sueño MLS" reality show and signed a professional deal with Chivas USA in 2007. At one time the longest-tenured player with the club, the Anaheim native remained with the Goats until being traded to Portland ahead of the 2014 season.
With Portland, Villafaña, who had been moved back and forth between left midfield and left back by a plethora of coaches at Chivas, eventually settled in as a left back and eventually became the regular starter, capped off by an MLS Cup performance where he was considered by many to be the best performer (I'm not exaggerating - read for yourself).
But as he mentioned himself, the shy player, still just 26, spent much of his youth in Mexico and is very familiar with the first division.
Reports had it that Villafaña was sold by the Timbers for just under $1 million, and the good news for him is that they are a well-run club and have tasted success in recent years, including winning the 2015 Clausura Liga MX title. They are also in the knockout stage for the CONCACAF Champions League against the LA Galaxy in March, so he could potentially face MLS opposition again in a few months' time.
Congratulations to Jorge for getting this move. It seems like a great step for player and club alike, and best of luck to him in Liga MX!
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