Jorge Villafana made all the right moves in his Galaxy homecoming. Playing in front of fans, friends and family, didn’t hurt either.
The LA Galaxy’s Jorge Villafana couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic during Sunday’s game against the New York Red Bulls at Dignity Health Sports Park.
He spotted his family in the stands and thought back to his earlier playing days at the Carson stadium, when he was a member of Chivas USA. But he no longer was wearing the red and white of the former Major League Soccer club. Now he was donned in the Galaxy’s new black and tech green community kit and understandably was thrilled to be back in familiar surroundings after playing a major role in Sunday’s hard-earned 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls in front of a crowd of 6,853.
“It means a lot,” Villafana, a native of Anaheim, said of playing at DHSP for the Galaxy. ”I think it brought back memories of when I started playing here in L.A. back in the Chivas USA days.
“Seeing my family in the stands was also amazing. I’m really happy for the win and really happy that I get to play again back home.”
The 31-year-old left back was acquired from the Portland Timbers in mid-January — along with a first-round selection (16th overall) in this year’s SuperDraft — for the Galaxy’s first-round pick (eighth overall). The Timbers also may receive additional allocation money based on Villafana’s performance with the Galaxy.
Suffice to say the Timbers likely will get that money, if Villafana’s early season efforts are any indication.
He was particularly impressive Sunday, with two plays in which he dispossessed New York’s Florian Valot leading to the first two of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s three goals. His steadying influence in a position that has been a Galaxy weak spot for the last few seasons has been welcomed, to say the least.
“I thought Jorge was outstanding today for a number of reasons,” Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said. “Just for his ability to adapt within the game to different things that are coming his way, whether it’s defensively or the positions he’ll take up on the offensive side.
“The amount of times he was able to wiggle out of pressure again when guys were coming at him … it was one, two guys and he was able to win himself a little bit of time. And get the ball off of that side to somebody who could get us out.
“He had some incredible moments, obviously the attacking moments,” Vanney continued. “But I thought he was outstanding on the day in terms of providing us sometimes just a little bit of relief when it looked like we were going to be under pressure.”
Villafana proved to be up to the task, and he was more than ready for it.
“Obviously coming into the game we knew it was going to be a difficult game because of the style they play,” he said. “They are really a direct team, a team that likes to destroy things and send balls into our back line. The second half obviously I think we backed up a little off the ball and suffered a little bit, but sometimes that’s good, you know?
“It shows the character we have, that we can play behind the ball as well. We had a good performance.”