Diego Valeri was the Portland Timbers' biggest offseason addition in the winter of 2012/13 and did nothing less than play up to his status as a Designated Player.
2012 Rank: n/a
Valeri was very clearly not the only important addition in the offseason, but his dynamism in attack utterly transformed the team's overall output and redefined Darlington Nagbe's role. That alone, which deserves an article all to its own, might make him the club's most important figure outside of Caleb Porter. But what Valeri accomplished in less than 2300 minutes on the pitch, namely ten goals and a league-leading thirteen assists, was tops in Portland in both categories. He scored in the season opener and the regular season finale, four times recorded two assists in a game and was usually the most dangerous player on the field for the Timbers. The club's success in 2013 was not solely thanks to his arrival, but in our estimation, Valeri was the most significant player.
So will Valeri be the Timbers' best player again in 2014? Hard to say for sure but really only Nagbe has the potential to improve enough to top even a similar performance from Valeri next season. Surgery on his sports hernia should alleviate the pain through which he played in the second half of 2013 and allow more than the 73 minutes per game he averaged during the regular season. Porter is clearly building his team around Valeri in the middle of attack, so there is no reason to expect a less impactful role, even if his statistics do not reach the heights of the rare double-double he achieved in his debut MLS season. With a permanent contract secured and pieces in long-term contracts around him, there will be no distractions for Valeri as he leads the Timbers into 2014.