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Donovan Ricketts, Diego Valeri, and Will Johnson Make the MLS Best XI

The Timbers' keeper and midfield lynchpins are the consensus best in Major League Soccer.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers put their mark on MLS in a big way this year, announcing the arrival of Portland as a potential powerhouse in years to come. A large part of the team's turnaround and success this year was thanks to the contributions of Donovan Ricketts, Will Johnson, and Diego Valeri, all of whom were name to the MLS Best XI this afternoon.

This year Ricketts had a league high 14 shutouts and a GAA of 0.97, bouncing back in a big way from his struggling form in 2012 that saw him record only 5 shutouts and allow 52 goals with the Timbers and Montreal Impact.

Ricketts is still in the running for the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award (to be announced tomorrow; although he has to be a favorite now, right?). He had also been named the SB Nation Goalkeeper of the Year and was the Soccer By Ives 2nd Team Best XI Goalkeeper.

Johnson had career highs in goals, 9, and assists, 5, while also setting a personal best for minutes played with 2520'. Brought in from Real Salt Lake at the start of the season, Johnson stepped into two vital roles for the Timbers in 2013: acting as the team captain and as the counterweight to Diego Chara in the center of the midfield.

Johnson was named to the SB Nation Best XI and the Soccer by Ives Best XI.

Valeri led the Timbers' in goals, with 10, and lead the league in assists, with 13, in his first year in MLS. Despite dealing with a painful sports hernia for the last two months of the season, Valeri continued to feature for the Timbers, scoring five goals after picking up the injury.

Valeri is in the running for both the Newcomer of the Year award 9to be announced tomorrow) and the Goal of the Year award (to be announced Thursday). He was also named to the SB Nation Best XI, and Soccer by Ives Best XI.

The Timbers' press release:


Portland Timbers midfielders Diego Valeri and Will Johnson and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts were named to Major League Soccer’s 2013 Best XI, it was announced today.

After finishing the regular season atop the Western Conference, the Timbers led all clubs with three players named to the Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position on the field. Both Valeri and Johnson received their first selections to the MLS Best XI, while Ricketts was named to the Best XI for the second time in his MLS career.

Valeri, 27, became the first Timbers MLS player to record double-digit totals in goals and assists in a single season, setting the club’s MLS single-season record in both categories. The league leader with 13 assists, Valeri tallied 10 goals to top Portland’s scoring chart with 33 points during his first season in MLS. He matched a Timbers MLS club record by registering an assist in four consecutive games from July 27-Aug. 21 – which also tied for the longest streak in MLS during 2013 – and was a direct factor in nine consecutive goals, scoring twice and assisting on seven others, across all competitions from July 13-Aug. 21. In 2013, Valeri was voted by players to the 2013 MLS All-Star inactive roster, a seven-time Team of the Week pick and won MLS Goal of the Week four times. He recorded a Timbers MLS club single-game high of five points, with two goals and one assist, in a 5-0 win over Chivas USA on Oct. 26, in the regular-season finale. Valeri is also a finalist for the 2013 MLS Newcomer of the Year.

Johnson, 26, set MLS career numbers in goals (9), assists (5), points (23) and minutes played (2,520), while helping lead the Timbers to a first-place finish in the Western Conference during the regular season and to the conference finals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Named captain in his first season in Portland, Johnson was voted a 2013 MLS All-Star and was named to the All-Star Fan XI as one of the top vote-getters at the midfield position. He played the full 90 in each of his career-best 28 starts during the regular season, and tallied one game-winning goal and two game-winning assists during the regular season. Johnson was named the MLS Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters after recording the first two-goal performance of his MLS career in a comeback, 2-2 draw on the road March 30 against the Colorado Rapids. He was the club’s leading scorer during the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs with two goals and one assist in four postseason matches.

Ricketts, 36, becomes just the fourth goalkeeper in MLS history to earn a second selection to the MLS Best XI, joining Tim Howard, Pat Onstad and Zach Thornton. Ricketts, voted by players to the 2013 MLS All-Star inactive roster, set career highs in shutouts (14), saves (92) and minutes played (2,880) during his first full season with the Timbers in 2013. The Jamaican international registered a league-high mark for shutouts, while also ranking among league leaders in wins (13), goals-against average (0.97) and saves percentage (73 percent), and was a 10-time winner of MLS Save of the Week. Ricketts compiled three of the longest shutout streaks in MLS during the regular season, setting a Timbers MLS record for longest individual shutout streak at 401 minutes. He also helped Portland set a club record with six consecutive home shutouts from April 6-June 23. With 14 shutouts, Ricketts tied for the club’s all-time mark for the most shutouts in a single season by a Timbers goalkeeper across all eras. He is also a finalist for the 2013 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year.

This year, MLS players, club leadership, and media members voted one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and three forwards to the Best XI. Reigning MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy and current MLS Cup host Sporting Kansas City each have two players named, while four teams each have one player on the Best XI.

2013 MLS Best XI (listed in alphabetical order within each position)
Goalkeeper – Donovan Ricketts (Portland Timbers)
Defender – Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)
Defender – Jose Goncalves (New England Revolution)
Defender – Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
Midfielder – Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls)
Midfielder – Will Johnson (Portland Timbers)
Midfielder – Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
Midfielder – Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forward – Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact)
Forward – Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)
Forward – Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)

Awards Announcement Schedule
Dec. 4:
Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, Newcomer of the Year
Dec. 5: AT&T Goal of the Year, Save of the Year, Volkswagen Most Valuable Player