The Portland Timbers’ left-back Jorge Villafana is reportedly on his way to Liga MX club Santos Laguna for a transfer fee of just under $1 million. Villafana was a crucial part of the Timbers defense that led Portland to their first ever MLS Cup title.
While leading Portland in both appearances and minutes played throughout the course of the campaign, Villafana also chipped in with a goal and four assists from the fullback position.
During the 2015 MLS Cup, he shutdown the Columbus Crew’s Ethan Finlay, an MLS Best XI midfielder, in a standout performance that solidified his reputation as one of the best defenders in the league.
For Villafana, it’s the continuation of a storybook tale that began by winning the 2007 reality show Sueño MLS, a nationally-televised player search for the next great MLS star.
Villafana beat out around 2,000 other hopefuls to earn a spot on Chivas USA’s U-19 squad. He went on to establish himself at Chivas before a trade sent him to the Rose City. He has totaled 138 career appearances in MLS to go along with nine goals.
Villafana, who spent part of his childhood in Guanajuato, Mexico, has also represented the United States at the U-20 and U-23 levels. The 26-year-old is one of the hottest defensive prospects in MLS.
However, the nature of the league makes it impossible for Portland to retain every piece of their title winning side.
Santos Laguna, having won their fifth title last season, finished a disappointing 15th during the Apertura 2015.
The money generated from the sale will allow Portland to retain the services of other players while granting Villafana’s wish to test himself in the waters of Liga MX.