It’s the end of an era, Rose City.
After many rumors and reports from various sources over the past few weeks, the Portland Timbers officially announced that club legend Diego Valeri has been transferred to Argentine side Club Atletico Lanus. In addition, the team confirmed that a Valeri testimonial match between the Timbers and Lanus is scheduled to be played at Providence Park sometime in 2023. The team also announced that upon Valeri’s retirement from soccer he will become a Timbers ambassador.
Forever our maestro.— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) January 20, 2022
After 9 magical seasons, legend Diego Valeri has transferred to his boyhood club Lanús in Argentina.
The clubs will play a testimonial match in 2023, and upon retirement Valeri will become a Timbers ambassador.
Details: https://t.co/yqo2V5L3LM | #RCTID pic.twitter.com/9w0P827Zzg
“There are no words to describe what Diego Valeri represents to the Portland Timbers and MLS,” Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese shared. “He gave being a Designated Player a new meaning, setting the highest of standards in the league. There aren’t many players that can be recognized for having the impact and consistency that Diego had with the Timbers.”
The writing appeared to be on the wall signaling Valeri’s departure for much of the fall. The Timbers went on a playoff run that ended in hosting MLS Cup 2021 in December. Prior to the match, Savarese encouraged fans to “enjoy Diego Valeri” during the match, the clearest indication, at that point, that Valeri was set to leave Portland. Earlier this month, reports started surfacing that Valeri was set for a return to Lanus, his boyhood team, along with rumors around the plans to hold a testimonial match.
Today, both of those above reports have been confirmed.
The impact of Diego Valeri on the Portland Timbers, and on Major League Soccer as a whole, simply cannot be overstated. Debuting in the first match of the 2013 season, Valeri very quickly burst onto the scene by scoring a fantastic goal in his debut at the south end of what was then called Jeld-Wen Field. That goal signaled not only a transformation in the Portland Timbers, but also of the league as a whole.
Valeri would go on to amass one of the most impressive resumes of any Timbers player or player in MLS. He became just the third player in league history to tally 80 goals and 80 assists in the regular season, a mark he reached in the 2020 campaign. He totaled 100 goals and 104 assists during his nine years with the Timbers and departs Portland as the team’s all-time leader in goals and assists.
Valeri’s individual honors collected during his time in the Rose City include being named the league MVP in 2017, as well as being named the MLS Cup MVP in 2015 as he led the Timbers to their first-ever league championship. In addition, Valeri was a five-time MLS All-Star, and was named to year-end MLS Best XI three times. He also was named as one of the greatest 25 players to ever play in MLS at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
As a Timbers icon, Valeri’s absence will undoubtedly be felt far and wide by fans, players and coaching staff alike. It is a solace, however, to know that he is returning to the club, Lanus, where he started his career and his story began.
Savarese expressed as much in the team’s press release, “It will be a strange feeling to not see him in our locker room. My wish as a head coach was to see him retire with the Timbers, but sometimes soccer works out in different ways. I wish Diego all the best in his return to Lanús, the club that saw him grow, and to his beautiful family, Florencia and Connie, in their return to Argentina. His humility and his soccer will always be synonymous to the Portland Timbers.”
The Timbers bid farewell to an unquestionable Portland soccer legend. Diego Valeri led the team to new heights on the field, touched hearts off it and transformed the league.
So on behalf of everyone at Stumptown Footy, and Portland Timbers fans far and wide: Thank you El Maestro.
The team’s full press release can be accessed here.