The Portland Timbers had an absolutely fantastic year under new coach Caleb Porter as they went on all the way to the Western Conference Finals, only to lose out to MLS Cup finalists Real Salt Lake. Regardless, the team played very well with a couple of new pieces in midfield spearheading their campaign. One of those guys deserves extra mention.
Diego Valeri is an Argentine playmaker who played the entire 2013 season on loan for the Timbers. He was truly an important piece to their puzzle as he scored goals and assisted teammates to keep the flow of the game moving. He knew exactly how and when to make the correct pass or take a shot on frame.
Well, after that masterful season, Valeri has been signed permanently from Argentine club Lanus. This is the best move for both player and Portland as he is only 27-years-old and still has much to offer. One of the biggest reasons why he decided to stay was him winning the MLS Newcomer of the Year award. He took home the honors with 13 goals and 10 assists in regular season play, in addition to one goal in the postseason.
In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Valeri plays as an attacking midfielder whose responsibility is to dribble the ball into the final third, pass to open teammates making runs, or even create space for himself to unleash one of his rocket shots. In fact, he is the most trusted member of his team when it comes to the midfield.
This upcoming season will bring heightened expectations as he is now guaranteed to stay in Portland. He knows that he will have to be an even better player when it comes to helping his teammates score, and he also has to step up his individual game by scoring more goals. Judging by last season, Valeri should be ready to step his game up and bring deserved success to the Timbers.