Timbers defender Jorge Villafaña is living the dream, or sueño in Spanish, as a professional soccer player. The fleet-footed left back for the Timbers has worked hard throughout his career and owes a lot of his work ethic to his mother, who tirelessly put in long hours to provide for her family.
Honor Thy Mother
In 2011, Villafaña legally changed his last name from Flores as a way of recognizing his mother by taking her maiden name as his own. "My parents separated when I was little and I lived my whole life with my mother. What she did for me, working and everything, I kind of wanted to honor her." Villafaña's mother made the difficult decision to move to the United States to work, while leaving her son with family members in Guanajuato, Mexico. It wasn't until Villafaña was 15 that he was able to join his mother in the United States.
Villafaña became the first-ever winner of the Sueño MLS tryout in 2007, a competition to identify the best undiscovered, amateur soccer players in the United States. After winning the competition, Villafaña earned a professional contract with Chivas USA and made his pro debut at the age of 17. Now 25, he reflected on some of the lessons he has learned during his career.
"You learn a lot," he said. "I learned that nothing comes easy. You have to work hard every day, you have to be on top of your game. Dedication, hard work, and there's always room to learn more. I'm still learning things now."
"Growing up, you watch the big stars," Villafaña explained. "Looking back, I watched Ronaldo and [Zinedine] Zidane and those type of players. When I was a kid, I used to play up top as a forward so Ronaldo was the model to go after."