The Galaxy finalized two moves they hope will shore up a porous defense, acquiring left back Jorge Villafaña in a trade with the Portland Timbers and signing goalkeeper Jonathan Bond on a free transfer from West Bromwich Albion of the English Premier League.
The Villafaña trade was announced Tuesday, while the acquisition of Bond is expected to be confirmed Wednesday. The deals are the first since Greg Vanney took over as manager last week.
“One of the most important things for me is that we build more stability on the defending side,” said Vanney, who has been tasked with rebuilding a defense that gave up 236 goals the last four seasons. “That means from front to back, we defend better as a team. There’s nothing more challenging than being a great attacking team and then conceding a lot of goals.
“We have to have the foundation on the defensive side to support what we want to do on the attacking side.”
For Villafaña, the trade, which has been in the works for more than a month, marks a homecoming of sorts. A native of Anaheim, he was signed by Chivas USA sporting director Dennis te Kloese — now the Galaxy’s general manager — as a teenager after winning a tryout on the TV reality show “Sueño MLS.” He played seven seasons for Chivas, the first five as Jorge Flores, using the surname of a father he hardly knew before legally adopting his mother Juanita’s maiden name in 2011.
Villafaña, 31, went on to make 127 appearances in all competitions and win an MLS Cup in two stints with the Timbers, sandwiched around 2½ years with Santos Laguna in Mexico, where he won a Liga MX title. He also has 21 caps with the U.S. national team.
The trade helps both teams, which exchanged first-round picks in this month’s MLS SuperDraft to make it happen. For the Galaxy, Villafaña represents a slightly younger and more offense-minded replacement for Emiliano Insúa at left back, while Portland, which might also get allocation money from the Galaxy if Villafaña achieves certain performance standards, needed to shred payroll.
Villafaña made $617,500 in 2019, the last season for which figures are available.
The Galaxy are also transitioning in goal with the signing of Bond, 27, who has appeared in 95 games for eight clubs in four leagues during a nine-year pro career. His best season came in 2015-16, when he started 14 games for Reading in England’s second-tier Championship league, giving up 13 goals.
Because Bond, who represented Wales and England as a youth international, has an American mother and a U.S. passport, the Galaxy won’t need to spend an international roster spot on him.
Bond and Jonathan Klinsmann, who is expected to re-sign with the Galaxy after making four starts last season, will compete for the starting job. The team is not expected to offer a contract to veteran David Bingham.