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It’s Official: Diego Valeri Named MLS Most Valuable Player

Roscoe Myrick —

Diego Valeri is our most valuable player.

Valeri’s impact on the Portland Timbers has been undeniable since he first stepped onto the field at Providence Park five seasons ago. Pulling the strings of the Timbers attack, Valeri was already one of the most potent attacking players in the side’s history, scoring 37 goals and providing 42 assists during the regular season between his debut in 2013 and the end of the 2016 season.

This year, however, Valeri took his game to another level. As the Timbers struggled through a season-long spell of injuries, Valeri still drove the team forward. In his modified role, now playing further down the pitch, the Timbers’ Maestro had a career year in front of goal as he lead the team in scoring with 21 goals and 11 assists.

That breakneck pace saw Valeri become the Timbers’ all-time leader in goals and draw even for second place all-time in assists. It also saw him named to the 2017 MLS All-star Team midway through the season. And to the MLS 2017 Best XI at the season’s end.

The accolades did not end there.

Valeri was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year by the fans (for the third time), the Player’s Player of the Year by his teammates (for the second time), and the Timbers’ Community MVP for his volunteer work and community involvement.

So when Major League Soccer announced the 2017 Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player award this morning, there was no surprise in Portland or anywhere else around the league.

We have always known that Diego Valeri is the MVP.

Now it is just official.

Thanksgiving may have been more than a week ago now, but it is certainly not too late to take the Maestro’s advice. We should all be thankful to have a player and a person like Diego Valeri in the Rose City.

The Timbers’ press release:

Valeri wins Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award after historic 2017 season with 21 goals, 11 assists

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer announced today that midfielder Diego Valeri has been named the 2017 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player. Valeri, a three-time MLS Best XI honoree and a four-time MLS All-Star, earns his first MVP award since joining MLS in 2013 and becomes the first Timbers player to be named MVP in club’s MLS era, capping off a historic 2017 campaign for the midfielder.

Reaching numerous milestones in his fifth MLS campaign with the Timbers, Valeri’s record-setting season was highlighted by a team-high 21 goals, a career-high for the midfielder, and a team-high 11 assists, marking the fourth time the midfielder has hit double digits in goals and assists in his five seasons in MLS. Additionally, Valeri recorded the most combined goals and assists (32) in the league this season – ranking tied for the fifth-most in league history – while also becoming the second player in MLS history to have 20 or more goals and 10 or more assists in the same season.

Scoring the third-most goals in the league in 2017 in 32 regular-season games played, Valeri set an MLS record for goals by a midfielder in a single season, surpassing the previous mark (18) originally set by Preki in 1996. As part of his 21-goal production, the Argentinian midfielder also set a new league record for consecutive regular-season games (9) with a goal – two more games than the previous record – scoring 10 goals from July 29-Sept. 24 to help guide the Timbers to a 5-2-2 record during the final stretch of the season. Additionally, leading the league in game-winning goals (7) in the regular season, Valeri also scored against 19 of the 22 teams in MLS, earning MLS Team of the Week honors nine times, which was the most by a single player in 2017.

Since joining the Timbers in 2013, Valeri has scored 58 goals and added 53 assists in 148 MLS regular-season appearances, ranking as the third-fastest player to reach the 50-50 mark in MLS history. In a 2-1 home win against the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 23, Valeri scored his 52nd MLS goal in league play, becoming the leading goal scorer in club history across all eras (since 1975). Additionally, with 53 career assists in MLS, Valeri is three assists shy of tallying the most in club history across all eras (since 1975).

In the postseason, Valeri is the first player in Timbers history to earn MLS Cup MVP honors after scoring in Portland’s 2-1 win against Columbus Crew SC in the 2015 MLS Cup, helping the club secure its first MLS Cup trophy. Valeri has also received MLS All-Star recognition in four of his five seasons in MLS, with the midfielder playing in the 2014 and 2017 MLS All-Star games against top-flight European clubs Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Valeri was an inactive MLS All-Star selection in 2013 and 2016. The Argentinian midfielder was also named to the MLS Best XI team for the third time in his MLS career in 2017, previously earning the honor in the 2013 and 2014 campaigns, while also receiving the MLS Newcomer of the Year award in 2013.

With the recognition, Valeri is the seventh South American to be named MLS MVP, the third from Argentina, joining Christian Gómez (2006) and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (2008).

Take a moment and share your favorite Valeri moment in the comments below. The offseason is a long, dark time so why not lighten it up with some memories of ridiculous goals and acoustic guitar playing?