After arriving for the first day of practice and the ensuing excitement over the team's newest striker, Jose "El Trencito" Valencia promptly disappeared in the first hiccup in a season full of them. Confusion about his status reigned before finally it was announced that Trencito would be undergoing surgery to repair a damaged meniscus and he would be out for the season but would stay on to recover and train with the Timbers in anticipation of rejoining the team next year.
Finally, after a season surrounded by confusion over his status and shrouded in mystery over his abilities, the Timbers faithful were given a quick glance in the final reserve match up of the season as Trencito got on the pitch for the final twenty minutes of the match against the Seattle Sounders. In those twenty minutes he showed off skill and strength on the ball as well as an enthusiasm and a desire to succeed that bodes well for a successful return from injury at such a young age.
Off the field, Valencia worked hard in practices returning from his surgery and, although there was no hope that he would play by the end of the season as he was on the season-ending injury list, played hard in team scrimmages. He had some difficulty adjusting to life in the US, as became publicly clear after his arrest in July, but by the end of the season he seemed to be at ease and enjoying himself on the pitch.
Should He Stay?
Yes. Despite his year on the sidelines, Valencia is still brimming with talent and could be a real impact player in Major League Soccer. It is unlikely that he will be a starter from day one, but I expect him to break out this year, particularly if Caleb Porter can put together a midfield that is a little bit more effective than what we are used to seeing.