Thursday, December 8, 2011
CHIVAS USA: Meet Jorge Villafaña
By Scott French
You know Jorge Flores, the industrious winger from Anaheim who came to Chivas USA 4½ years ago through the “Sueño MLS” reality television series and started 24 games for the club last season.
Now meet Jorge Villafaña.
Same guy, different surname.
The 22-year-old midfielder went to court last month in Long Beach to legally change his name, opting for his mother's last name over his father's.
“It was that I grew up with my mother my whole life,” Villafaña told ESPN Los Angeles. “I just wanted to have her last name, because she was the one who raised me.”
Villafaña's parents divorced when he was a toddler, and he's had minimal communication with his father.
News of the name change came with U.S. Soccer's announcement Thursday that Villafaña had been called up for the U.S. under-23 camp that begins next week in Florida. It led to the question: Who is this Villafaña from Chivas?
Villafaña (Anaheim HS), who had played in just 27 games over four seasons before Robin Fraser rewarded him with a starting role for much of last season, is excited about the chance to train with the U23s, who are preparing for next year's Olympic qualifiers.
“I know it's a big opportunity,” he said. “I wanted this to happen, and I've got the opportunity to prove myself next week, and, hopefully, I get called up to the qualifiers [in March].”
He said he wants U.S. U23 coach Caleb Porter to “know I'm a hard-working guy, I work hard every day, and I'm very happy he called me up, and I'm not going to disappoint him, and I'm going to give my best work for my team when I step into the game.”
We see name changes at times in the women's game, with some (but hardly all) assuming their married names -- U.S. national-team legend Kate Markgraf (Sobrero) and captain Christie Rampone (Pearce) can attest -- but it's rare in men's soccer, aside from the practice in Brazil, Portugal and Spain to adopt single names, so many of them, it seems, some twist on Ronald or Junior. Rising U.S. national-teamer Michael Orozco Fiscal, an Orange product who plays in Mexico, a couple of years ago decided to honor his mother by adding her maiden name in the Latin fashion.
Now everbody has to get used to Flores' new name. Er, Villafaña's.
“Maybe it will take awhile,” he said, “but I'm young. I think it's going to be fine.”