Update (9:22 pm ET):
It's official, as the Timbers announce they have acquired Villafaña using Targeted Allocation Money and moved up to the top allocation spot by trading the No. 16 position in the Allocation Ranking Order, $75,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) and $100,000 in 2019 TAM to the LA Galaxy to acquire the American.
Update (3:36 pm ET):
Villafaña is indeed headed back to the Timbers.
Original story (3:16 pm ET):
The sources said that Santos Laguna have agreed to sell the former Portland Timbers and Chivas USA left back to MLS and that the 28-year-old has agreed to a deal through the 2021 season. His salary will be slightly over the maximum budget charge in 2018, meaning the team he ends up with will either have to buy down his budget charge with Targeted Allocation Money or count him as a Designated Player. It's not clear if his salary will remain over the maximum budget charge in 2019, 2020 or 2021.
Because he was sold by Portland to Santos for a fee of more than $500,000, Villafaña must re-enter the league through the MLS allocation process. It’s not yet clear which team he’ll end up joining, though the Timbers appeared to tease the signing on their official Twitter account on Wednesday. A source confirmed that Portland are interested in acquiring Villafaña.
The LA Galaxy hold the top spot in the allocation ranking order. The Timbers are 16th in the current ranking. They’d likely have to trade up with LA in order to acquire Villafaña. The sources said that whichever team secures his MLS rights will be responsible for paying his transfer fee.
Sources told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday that the Timbers were close to finalizing a deal to bring back attacker Lucas Melano and were in the process of making another “significant addition.” Melano wore No. 26 with the Timbers while Villafaña wore No. 19 – the numbers were included on the back of the 2015 Timbers jerseys that Portland included in their tweet.
Villafaña spent nine seasons in MLS before moving from Portland to Santos Laguna in January 2016. He began his career with Chivas USA in 2007 after winning the first-ever Sueño MLS contest. He made 86 regular season appearances with the now-defunct club before he moved to Portland in 2014. He had a successful two-year stint with the Timbers, recording two goals and seven assists in 52 regular season appearances and starting all six of their matches in the 2015 playoffs to help Portland win MLS Cup.
The California native started 15 of Santos’ 17 regular season matches in the Liga MX Clausura season last spring and made three appearances off the bench in the playoffs to help the team to the league title. He had one assist in 67 career appearances across all competitions for Santos.
A former US Under-20 and Under-23 international, Villafaña made his senior US debut in 2017. He has 19 career caps with the USMNT, last appearing for the team in the 2-1 loss at Trinidad & Tobago in October that kept them from qualifying from this summer’s World Cup.