Portland Timbers left back Jorge Villafaña returned to the team’s starting lineup on Sunday against Seattle Sounders FC, ending a three-week spell on the sidelines as he recovered from a leg injury. That ailment came at a particularly inopportune time for the 29-year-old, who had briefly lost minutes in his team’s starting lineup earlier this season. The 2015 MLS Cup-winner had reclaimed his spot shortly before being injured on June 30 against FC Dallas.
As the Timbers returned to training on Wednesday in Beaverton, Oregon, Timbers.com caught up with Villafaña, who is quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of his Portland return from Liga MX’s Santos Laguna.
Timbers.com: We’re approaching the one-year point of you coming back to Oregon. How does the last year compare to the first time you and your family were here, in Portland?
Villafaña: I think the city has changed. Portland has gotten bigger, but it’s still the same. I love how green it is. I love the people – how they treat you, over here.
For me, though, it didn’t really change that much. In terms of the team, a couple of new guys have come in. Some of the things inside the facilities have changed. But I felt like I never left.
I know it was almost three years that I was gone, but I felt really happy to be back here in Portland.
Timbers.com: When your injury came, you had just worked your way back into the XI. How did you feel about the timing of your injury?
Villafaña: It’s always, any injury at any time, it’s just devastating. You don’t want to get injured. You lose playing time, and like you said, it was during the time that I was starting to play again. Then I got my injury, and I lost three weeks.
But coming back against Seattle, I knew it was going to be a really important game, where we had to win. And we had to put in a good performance. I felt really good about myself, and I think the team did a really good job.
Timbers.com: Some of the performances you had before your injury were really strong. How were you feeling about your level of play over the last two or three months?
Villafaña: It’s been a little bit here and there. Like you said, I was starting to feel really good before my injury. These past few months, I ended up spending three weeks in rehab. Coming back for this game, I felt pretty confident about my fitness.
This game helped me build up for the next one, to try and be stronger and be healthy for the rest of the season.