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Diego Valeri Dominates Newcomer of the Year Award

The man they call the "Maestro" handily won the MLS Newcomer of the Year award.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

At the start of the season, the Portland Timbers, over their short history in MLS, had lacked a true playmaker in the midfield. Darlington Nagbe and Kalif Alhassan had shown glimmers of potential, but it was not until Diego Valeri arrived from Argentina that the Timbers' knew what it meant for their game to have someone capable of pulling the strings form the center of the pitch and creating something amazing out of nothing.

Thanks largely to the skill of Valeri, Caleb Porter's revamped midfield was not only difficult to play against, it was at times beautiful to watch.

Valeri lead the league this year with 13 assists. His ten goals were enough to lead the Timbers and were the most of any newcomer to MLS this season. Of those ten goals, four won Goal of the Week honors and one is a finalist for the Goal of the Year.

Valeri won over 70% of the club and media votes, while taking home 36% of the player vote. Valeri's weighted total of 187 was almost nine times that of second place finisher Jose Goncalves.

The Timbers' press release:


PORTLAND, Ore. – Major League Soccer today announced Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri as the 2013 Newcomer of the Year.

The award, which honors a player in his first season in MLS, but has prior professional experience, was voted on by media, MLS players and MLS club management based on regular-season performance.

Valeri, 27, recorded a league-leading 13 assists while finishing the regular season as Portland’s Golden Boot winner with 33 points (10g, 13a) in his first year in MLS after joining from Argentine club Atlético Lanús in January. A 2013 MLS Best XI selection, Valeri becomes the third consecutive Argentine player to be selected for the award following Seattle midfielder Mauro Rosales (2011) and Columbus forward Federico Higuaín (2012).

Valeri is the first Timbers MLS player to record double-digit totals in goals and assists in a season, setting the club’s MLS single-season record in both categories. He became the fourth player in Timbers MLS history to score a goal in his debut, displaying deft control of the ball while netting a goal against the New York Red Bulls on March 3 at JELD-WEN Field.

Named to the MLS All-Star inactive roster through a player vote, Valeri matched a Timbers MLS club record by registering an assist in four consecutive games from July 27-Aug. 21 – which tied for the longest streak in MLS during 2013. He was a direct factor in nine consecutive goals, scoring twice and assisting on seven others, across all competitions from July 13-Aug. 21. Appearing in 31 games (28 starts), Valeri logged multi-assist games four times and set the Timbers MLS club single-game high with a five-point (2g, 1a) performance in a 5-0 win over Chivas USA on Oct. 26 in the regular-season finale.

Valeri was a seven-time Team of the Week pick and won MLS Goal of the Week honors four times during the regular season.

The other finalists for the 2013 Newcomer of the Year included Jose Goncalves of the New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Nigel Reo-Coker. Below is a breakdown of the voting for the top four candidates:

Player (Club)

% of Club Votes

% of Media Votes

% of Player Votes

Weighted Total

Diego Valeri (POR)





Jose Goncalves (NE)





Nigel Reo-Coker (VAN)





Clint Irwin (COL)





MLS Newcomer of the Year Winners:
2013: Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers
2012: Federico Higuaín – Columbus Crew
2011: Mauro Rosales – Seattle Sounders FC
2010: Alvaro Saborío – Real Salt Lake
2009: Fredy Montero – Seattle Sounders FC
2008: Darren Huckerby – San Jose Earthquakes
2007: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United

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