Insider Notes: Vela, Castillo, Villafaña transfers; USWNT adamant about turf

Grant Wahl has the latest on MLS transfers involving Carlos Vela, Fabian Castillo and Jorge Villafaña and an update on the USWNT artificial turf controversy.
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Two of the biggest potential MLS offseason transfers still have a ways to go.

The agent for Mexican star Carlos Vela was in Columbus this weekend and met with reps from MLS and the Colorado Rapids, who have his discovery rights, but I’m told Real Sociedad wants a transfer fee above the $7 million the LA Galaxy paid for Giovani Dos Santos, and the sides are not close on a fee yet.

In the other direction, FC Dallas’s Fabián Castillo is one of the hottest MLS players on the market, but as of now there’s no transfer fee offer for Castillo of more than $5 million, and that’s not enough to get a deal done. There’s plenty of time, of course, for all that to change.

Here are a couple of more insider notes from around the soccer world:

Villafaña heading to Santos Laguna

For many people, the Man of the Match in the MLS Cup final was Portland left back Jorge Villafaña, who shut down Columbus All-Star Ethan Finlay.

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​Villafaña was one of the league’s most improved players this year, and I’ve learned a deal is set to be finalized that will send him on a transfer of just under $1 million to Santos Laguna in the Mexican league.

Villafaña is 26 now, but he was discovered at 18 in a reality contest called Sueño MLS, where he beat out 2,000 contestants and won a spot on Chivas USA. His nickname remains Sueño. Dream.

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USWNT putting foot down on turf

In the wake of the U.S. women’s team’s canceled game in Hawaii over poor field conditions, it’s clear from talking to the players’ side that this is a safety issue as well as a gender-equality issue.

Both the U.S. women’s players and their general counsel, Rich Nichols, noted that eight of the 10 Victory Tour games are on artificial turf, while the U.S. men played no games on artificial turf this year.

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Nichols is a relatively new players rep, and he is taking a harder line with the federation than his predecessor. He told me the U.S. women made it clear on Saturday with the federation that they don’t want to play on artificial turf at all in the future—and as of now U.S. Soccer is saying that USWNT games hosted by the U.S. in 2016 will all be on grass. That said, the federation isn’t ruling out artificial turf surfaces for both the U.S. men and the women in the future.

The U.S. women begin their 2016 slate at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego against Ireland on Jan. 23 before Olympic qualifying in Houston and Dallas in February.