Santos Laguna captured the 2018 Liga MX Clausura Liguilla with a 1-1 draw (3-2 aggregate) against Toluca at the Estadio Nemesio Diez.
Julio Furch put Santos ahead in the 10th minute. Gabriel Agustin Hauche pulled one back for Toluca, but Los Diablos Rojos were unable to find the goal that would send the series into extra time.
It’s the sixth title for Santos, which finished the Clausura regular season in fourth place with 29 points from 17 matches. By reaching the final, both clubs qualified for the upcoming 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.
National team fullback Jorge Villafana entered the match in the 55th minute. He becomes the third American to win both MLS and Liga MX championships, after Herculez Gomez and Omar Gonzalez.
”It was difficult,” Villafaña told ESPN in a post-match interview. “You come here, it’s a pretty good team and the altitude and then you come into the game when the team is pushing really high, but you have to contain and in the end we got the result.”
There’s no rest for the weary, as Villafaña heads straight into camp with the national team. The 28-year old California-native was named to Dave Sarachan’s 22-player roster that will face Bolivia on May 28th in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Villafaña has made 16 appearances with the national team since debuting in 2017. He’s one of the older players in the group and should continue to be one over the next five years. He’ll be 33 when the 2022 World Cup kicks off which is old, but not “too old” provided he is still performing at a suitable level. For now, Villafaña provides a bit of veteran leadership and experience for a group boasting an average age of 22.