Jorge Villafana — Portland Timbers — September 15, 2018
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Villafaña on quest for Liga MX-MLS title sweep: "It goes fast in a year"

It's been a whirlwind year for Portland Timbers defender Jorge Villafaña.

In May, the 29-year-old lifted the Liga MX trophy with Santos Laguna, after the outfit won the 2018 Clausura season following a successful playoff run.

On Saturday, he's aiming to make it an unusual sweep, in winning two domestic league titles in two separate leagues in a calendar year, as the Timbers will take on Atlanta United in the 2018 MLS Cup, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (8 pm ET | FOX, UniMás, TSN1/3/5, TVAS).

The left back reflected on the chance to win a second league title this year.

"I’m happy and thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to play and seeing me once again fighting for a title," Villafaña said this week in Spanish. "It goes fast in a year to have two cups, but I hope that on Saturday I have a chance to achieve [winning both titles in two different leagues]."

Villafaña returned to Portland in August, after playing for two and a half years in Mexico at Santos. While he ended his tenure in Liga MX on a high, and broke through to become a US national team player during his time playing abroad, the California native cited several notable parallels between his two clubs this year, especially when it came to a playoff run.

"Comparing the two teams -- the whole season wasn’t perfect. The whole season was full of highs and lows. But at the end of the season, that’s when you saw the consistency. That’s what happened at Santos and that’s what happened here with the Timbers. At the end of the matches you saw this consistency where we were winning matches instead of losing them. And it gave you the momentum to arrive all the way here. At Santos I had the opportunity to raise the trophy and hopefully this weekend it happens again."

Villafaña's return to the Timbers brought back institutional knowledge of the last time they lifted MLS Cup, in 2015, when he was a regular in their lineup. Even with a different manager and several new faces in the run to MLS Cup this year, Villafaña sees several similarities to 2015.

"One of the things that’s similar [to 2015] is that the team was giving their all in every game," he said. "You were playing for the other players and the coach. And I think that union is the same thing that’s gotten us this far and it’s what we had in 2015 as well."

Of course, Villafaña and the Timbers have to face a fearsome opponent on Saturday in Atlanta United. With the Five Stripes sporting a multifaceted attack and plenty of silky play out wide, the veteran, who memorably earned his first pro contract by winning the inaugural "Sueño MLS" program way back in 2007, is ready for the challenge.

"Lot of people coming at me," he said. "A lot of good players. But at the end of the day it’s 11 against 11. We have a group of players, too. We’re not that worried. They’re the ones that should be worried because they have the pressure of winning. They’re at home. We’re going to do what we do best and, at the end of the day, we want to lift that trophy."

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