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LA Galaxy 2021 Player Postmortem: Jorge Villafaña

Veteran was a workhorse until injury slowed him.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jorge Villafaña was a sensible addition to the LA Galaxy for the 2021 season. With plenty of MLS experience, including an MLS Cup with the Portland Timbers, and experience abroad, with a Liga MX title at Santos Laguna, Villafaña was a player who worked hard and had veteran’s experience.

That was what the Galaxy wanted, and with Villafaña rounding into an MLS starter at left back for the past decade, it helped fill a need on the roster, too. While Emiliano Insua was pretty good in 2020, Villafaña was a cheaper option, a domestic player and wasn’t really a drop-off from the Argentine.

Villafaña slotted in as the starting left back on day one for LA, and was a workhorse for two-thirds of the season, playing pretty much every game until late-September.

Here are Villafaña’s stats in 2021:

Jorge Villafaña 2021 LA Galaxy Statistics

2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS 21 20 1,697 0 0 6 1 4 0

Villafaña suffered an injury in August, however, and after a brief return in September, he was out the rest of the season. The absence was noticeable, as the likes of Niko Hämäläinen, Danny Acosta and Oniel Fisher cycled into left back in the former U.S. international’s absence, but none of them had the consistency of Villafaña. He was the clear starter at that spot and it’s probably not a coincidence that the team’s long slide to end the season came when he was out.

Having said all that...I looked at Villafaña’s advanced stats comparison on FBref.com, and was pretty well shocked at his comparison around MLS. Bearing in mind that the comparisons made are with all fullbacks, both left and right, Villafaña was well below average in nearly every category, which didn’t really fit with my eye test picture of him.

(You can also find the graphic on Villafaña’s FBref page).

So while I don’t discount the workrate and dedication on the field while he was playing, with the Galaxy looking to improve the defense further and Villafaña not getting any younger at 32, perhaps the club could use a player to supplant him as the starter or at least push him there. I think Villafaña can definitely still fill a role, and I’m one of his biggest fans, but the injury issues and underlying numbers seem to indicate that using Villafaña as a rotation starter would be ideal for 2022.

Villafaña is under contract for the coming season and I expect him to remain in the fold for 2022. Beyond that, we’ll see if he’s an regular again in the lineup, or if Greg Vanney’s going to bring in competition to push his veteran forward or into a new role moving forward.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.