Liga MX: Another departure for Los Guerreros

TORREON, MEXICO - APRIL 08: Jorge Villafaña of Santos reacts after a foul during the 14th round match between Santos Laguna and Querataro as part of the Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on April 8, 2018 in Torreon, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images)
TORREON, MEXICO - APRIL 08: Jorge Villafaña of Santos reacts after a foul during the 14th round match between Santos Laguna and Querataro as part of the Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on April 8, 2018 in Torreon, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images) /
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After losing their Championship winning coach earlier in the day, news has broken that left back Jorge Villafana will be leaving the team, as well.

United States international Jorge Villafana is headed back to MLS from Liga MX, agreeing to a 3.5 year contract with the Portland Timbers as part of his transfer from Santos Laguna. MLSsoccer.com reports that the Timbers will trade up with LA Galaxy to acquire the number 1 allocation spot to get the 28-year-old left back. Villafana was sold to Santos for over $500,000 so MLS rules dictate he go through the allocation process to re-enter the league.

Villafana came to Santos in 2016 from Portland. He started 15 of 17 Liga MX Clausura matches in 2018, including three substitute appearances in Liguilla 2018. The California-native appeared in 67 matches across all competitions for Santos.

His departure sees Santos lose another significant player from their championship run. The team had struggled to find some sense of cohesiveness over the first few matches of the Liga MX Apertura in 2018, and while he hadn’t played this season, Villafana’s absence could be felt in the depth and team dynamics.

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This news is dwarfed by the news of coach Robert Saboldi’s resignation and the departure of his staff with him. The staff changes just as the team was seeming to find their stride. All that is thrown out now, as the changeover is only just begun.

The club will need to get behind interim manager Salavador Reyes for the time being, but will be looking for a new head coach unless Reyes shocks Mexico by overseeing a turnaround for the Green-and-Whites.

Santos plays Chivas Guadalajara on Sunday night, August 12, in their first match without Saboldi and Villafana. Chivas has had their own struggles on and off the pitch, making the matchup between the two squads fraught with narratives. For their part, Santos will want to put the week behind them and move forward.