Diego Valeri just can't catch a break. One year removed from his offseason surgery to fix a sports hernia, the Portland Timbers' midfield maestro will need to go under the knife again to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Although Timbers fans held out hope that it was not so, the injury was apparent after Valeri went down under no contact in the 26' of Saturday's season finale, a 2-0 win at FC Dallas. Valeri managed to play out the remainder of the half before being taken off the pitch.
The expected time-frame for Valeri's recovery is at least five months, with six being a more historically realistic target even if the surgery goes well. A five month absence would put Valeri's return to the side near the end of March.
Without Valeri at the start of the season, the Timbers will need to lean on other players to be the force that drives their attack forward. Gaston Fernandez is the likely candidate for that duty, assuming he returns to the Timbers next year. Alternatively, Darlington Nagbe could be used in a more central role, a spot he has regularly moved into this year, although generally for shorter stints rather than full matches.
The absence of Valeri and the potential moving on of Steve Zakuani, whose Timbers career has been a frustrating run of injury and fitness issues, leaves the Timbers with holes in the depth of their attack that will need to be filled this offseason.
Although players like Michael Nanchoff and Schillo Tshuma are waiting in the wings, the Timbers could be well served by bringing in a player who can confidently step into the first team's set of the three attacking midfielders. Without shoring up the attack, as well as other needs around the field, the Timbers could be set for another disappointing start to the season in 2015, something that should be foremost in the team's minds this offseason, having just finished one point out of playoff contention.
The Timbers' press release:
TIMBERS MIDFIELDER DIEGO VALERI TO UNDERGO SURGERY FOR ACL INJURY
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that midfielder Diego Valeri will undergo surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of his left knee, an injury sustained in Portland’s 2-0 win over FC Dallas on Saturday.
Surgery will be performed by Dr. Richard Edelson at Sports Medicine Oregon in Tigard, Ore., and will be scheduled once the injury has stabilized. Valeri is expected to be out at least five months.
In his second season with the Timbers, Valeri, 28, played in 33 games (32 starts), establishing Timbers MLS-club single-season record marks with 11 goals and 14 assists, including three multi-assist performances. A contender for MLS Most Valuable Player, Valeri was named a 2014 MLS All-Star and delivered the game-winning assist in a 2-1 victory over FC Bayern Munich on Aug. 6 at Providence Park. Valeri was a four-time selection to the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week in 2014 and earned NASR MLS Player of the Week honors in Week 31 following a brace in a 3-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes on Oct. 8.