Yesterday we got a good look at how the 2013 Portland Timbers squad is shaping up. Granted the team has only been back in full training for a little over a week, there were still quite a few highlights from yesterday's game. One of those highlights? Newly signed designated player Diego Valeri.
Valeri played for 45 minutes yesterday and in those minutes he managed to showcase a skill set that no Portland Timbers player before him (since joining MLS) has been able to grasp: creativity. While it certainly wasn't a perfect game for the midfielder, his ability to pass through the midfield and not get forced into a long-ball type situation was not only exhilarating to watch, but also a relief to see. The Portland for far too long have been in desperate need of a creative midfielder who can do just that.
Beyond his creative technical ability, however, Valeri also showed another skill that should come in handy this season: his free kick. While it might have been a fluke or pure dumb luck, if Valeri's goal is something we can expect to see more of in the season then the Timbers should be far more dangerous on set pieces, corner kicks, and free kicks than they have in the past. Let's just hope he can keep that kind of precision, though with yesterday being very windy... who knows?
One last thing to note about Valeri. It seems he quickly learned just how physical MLS could be. It's an important lesson to learn early on and I believe Valeri got through his first lesson with a fair amount of ease. After being ruthlessly brought down by a Colorado Rapids player, he shook it off and proceeded to be more physical in his own right. That right there is something that it can take other foreign players months to learn: give as good as you get.
In the end, it was a fairly impressive start for the new DP, but before we get too excited about his potential just remember that Kris Boyd had a similar start last pre-season.
What did you think of Diego Valeri yesterday?