Portland Timbers

Diego Valeri calls games without Timbers Army 'a challenge' for players

Diego Valeri calls games without Timbers Army 'a challenge' for players

When Diego Valeri arrived in Portland in 2013 from Andalusia, Spain, he started from zero.

The Portland Timbers midfielder, who is from Argentina, didn’t know a single soul, the language and the habits of the City of Roses. But luckily his teammates and new friends along the way helped him adjust to Portland, the city he proudly calls his home after seven seasons with the Timbers. 

In a recent episode of the Talkin’ Blazers podcast with NBA champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award-winning co-host Dan Sheldon, Valeri talked about how he’s been dealing with quarantine, soccer’s popularity in Argentina and his thoughts on soccer returning without the Timbers Army. 

Yeah that’s gonna be horrible for one side. That’s going to be a challenge for a lot of guys, for everybody actually. The energy, all the feelings you have, the changes of states with the noise, with the rhythm of the game. It’s gonna be something new almost, so we have to be very focused on it.

Valeri’s not new to change. Many aspects, including his growing knowledge of the game of soccer, have come in his time with the Timbers. 

In just his first season, Valeri took home the coveted MLS Newcomer of the Year Award. Two years later, the Timbers won the 2015 Western Conference Final and 2015 MLS Cup, while Valeri earned the MLS Cup Most Valuable Player award. 

He was crucial in helping Portland reach first-place in the 2017 Western Conference title race and once again took home some hardware. This time, the Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award for the league’s Most Valuable Player. 

Valeri, who has 78 goals and 81 assists in 213 regular-season matches, is on the verge of reaching the 80-goal, 80-assist club. But for Valeri, it’s about more than reaching career milestones. He wants to help his team accomplish big things as well. 

I’m 34 and it’s not easy. I try to take care of everything to be on that level, obviously for the team, for me and for all the confidence the team puts in me …I always try to say, for me it makes me happy, personally, but the whole team, whole club still growing, is way more happy for me.

While Valeri and the rest of MLS await their date to return to play, Valeri is spending a lot working out, reading, playing the guitar and enjoying extra time with wife Florencia and daughter Connie.

He’s also looking forward to the NBA getting back in action as well and said he enjoys watching the Portland Trail Blazers. 

“Actually, I live very close to the Moda Center and I went a lot of times to watch them play,” Valeri said. “I love it, I love it. A very couple of good games against Golden State.”

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

Portland Timbers earn three points in debut of the MLS restart

Portland Timbers earn three points in debut of the MLS restart

That's one way to re-start the season.

The Portland Timbers got the new season off on the right foot Monday evening defeating the LA Galaxy 2-1 in their debut game of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida.

While Portland left the pitch with a well-deserved and earned three points, it didn't always look like they were in control.

The first and largest scare of the night happened in the 11th minute when Timbers defender Dario Zuparic got a yellow card inside his own box, rewarding the Galaxy with a penalty kick.

But then, goalkeeper Steve Clark made absolutely remarkable saves on both the penalty kick and the rebound to keep the ball out of the net.

The stops were crucial in keeping the Timbers even going into the half, 0-0.

Then, in the second half, Portland found its offensive groove scoring in both the 59th and 66th minute. Both thanks to striker Sebastian Blanco who got an assist and goal in a seven-minute span of the match.

The first goal, Blanco found the Timbers leading scorer from 2019, Jeremy Ebobisse in front of the goal who finished the job.

Then, Blanco decided he'd do the second one himself. 

In classic Portland Timbers fashion, however, that was not the end of the story. Zuparic would receive a second yellow in the 75th minute causing Portland to play the remaining 15+ minutes with only ten men. 

In that time, the Galaxy put the ball in the net three times, but were called offsides twice, preserving the Timbers lead.

By the time the referee called for the game to be complete, the Timbers had earned three points. 

With the win, Portland was the only team to win its debut game in Group F of the MLS is Back Tournament, therefore they sit at the top of the standings. Their next match will be against the Houston Dynamo, who sits at one point, at 5:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, July 18. 

Timbers among Black MLS players to raise fists in support of Black Lives Matter

Timbers among Black MLS players to raise fists in support of Black Lives Matter

Ahead of the MLS is Back season opener on Wednesday in Orlando, more than 150 Black players raised their right fists and took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Players wore shirts with messages like, “Black and Proud,” “Silence is Violence,” and “Black All the Time,” as well as masks with the words “Black Lives Matter.” All 22 starters from Orlando and Miami, plus the match officials, lowered themselves to one knee in solidarity. 

“Our fight for change continues,” the Portland Timbers shared in a post on Twitter.

[RELATED: Portland Thorns, North Carolina Courage kneel during national anthem before NWSL Challenge Cup]

The powerful demonstration lasted approximately eight minutes and 46 seconds; the same amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. The death of the 46-year-old Black man has sparked public outcry and national protests against police brutality and systemic racism. 

MLS players involved in the Black Players for Change coalition, which was formed on Juneteenth, helped lead the protest.

The Timbers will make their return to the field and MLS is Back debut on July 13 vs. the LA Galaxy. 

[RELATED: Timbers to provide nannies, house cleaners during MLS is Back Tournament]

Timbers to provide nannies, house cleaners during MLS is Back Tournament

Timbers to provide nannies, house cleaners during MLS is Back Tournament

While the Portland Timbers are readying themselves for match play in Orlando for the MLS is Back Tournament, the club is helping their families feel a little more comfortable at home.

In a press conference with reporters on Tuesday, Timbers manager Gio Savarese revealed the team is providing meals, house cleaners and even nannies while the tournament takes place. 

Every family has different needs, some are receiving food directly to their home so they don't have to go to the supermarket, some are getting nannies, some are getting people to clean their house, making sure if someone needs transportation we have at all times people back in Portland making sure that everything is taken care of. Yesterday we had a meeting with the families asking how we can continue to help, is there any concern and from that standpoint I think the club has done a great job. -- Gio Savarese

Savarese mentioned players like Diego Chara, who has four children, including twin boys he and his wife Sindy welcomed in 2018. There can be many complications that can take place with players being away from their families and inside the MLS bubble for more than a month. 

While the club is doing everything possible to make its players and staff feel comfortable, Savarese knows there’s a level of uncertainty once the team arrives at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. 

[There's] always a level of concern, which is important, because if you aren't concerned then you let your guard down and all of a sudden you aren't as worried as you had been. That's why I have to continue to remind the players that we need to always wear masks, stay on the floors, not come down, avoid conversations with other players on other teams. -- Gio Savarese

Several clubs have opted out of the MLS is Back Tournament, which will kick off on Wednesday, due to positive COVID-19 tests. FC Dallas pulled out of the tournament on Tuesday after reportedly 10 players and one coach tested positive. The Timbers, as of Tuesday, have zero positive tests. 

Portland will make its return to the field and MLS is Back debut on July 13 vs. the LA Galaxy. 

Why former Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson is suing club's doctors

Why former Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson is suing club's doctors

As the Portland Timbers are currently in Orlando, Florida training ahead of the resumption of the MLS season, one former player has filed a lawsuit against two of the team’s doctors on Monday. 

Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, who signed by the MLS Timbers on Feb. 17, 2011 after a standout 2010 season with the club’s development team, the Portland Timbers U-23s, made 67 appearances in all competitions for Portland and helped the club to an MLS Cup title in 2015.

Gleeson is seeking over $10 million in economic and noneconomic damages in a medical malpractice.

The defendants are Sports Medicine Oregon and Oregon Outpatient Surgery Center.

In an interview with ESPN, the 30-year-old, who is now retired, said the doctors named in the suit "took my life, took my livelihood, and what I dedicated my life to do, and kind of just left me there to pick up the pieces. It's been absolutely crippling, devastating. I wouldn't wish the last two years of my life on anyone."

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].

In summer of 2008, Gleeson suffered stress fractures in both tibias. The Timbers' team doctors recommended that metal plates be inserted into both shins.

Here is what the court filing stated:

- The plates weren’t properly sterilized before surgery

- “Breach of sterility” at Oregon Outpatient Center (Gleeson was unaware)

- The doctors selected “aggressive” and “risky procedures” without attempting more conservative therapies first

- “No clear orthopedic necessity to implant the devices”

In September, Gleeson had developed an infection in both his legs and both the metal plates were removed.

According to reports, Gleeson sought out new doctors and was diagnosed with necrosis and osteomyelitis in both of his shins, which meant that portions of the bone became infected and died.

“I’ve had my career taken from me, I’ve had the job that I love more than anything taken from me and a big aspect of my life taken from me,” Gleeson told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “I’m physically not the same. I’m emotionally not the same and I just would like to understand why and how someone could do this. I can’t go through my life not telling this story. (I need to bring) attention to this to prevent this from happening to anyone else.”

Portland has been amazing not just for Diego Valeri, but also for his daughter

Portland has been amazing not just for Diego Valeri, but also for his daughter

Portland Timbers midfielder. 2015 MLS Champion. 2015 MLS Cup MVP. MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2013. MLS MVP in 2017. Four-time MLS All-Star selection. 

Husband and father.

When Diego Valeri signed with a club in the United States back in 2013, the 34-year-old footballer from Argentina knew this was going to be a huge decision for not just himself but for his family. Since then, he has made quite the name for himself not just in Portland, Oregon, but in the MLS.

But the importance of family still remains at the forefront of his decisions.

Valeri speaks out about his relationship with his daughter.

She’s my one and only and we have a great relationship and everyday she surprises me. She’s growing up a lot, so fast. We talk a lot about our situation as a family. It’s really hard, athletes and soccer. The dynamic of changes, of decisions, it’s not easy… We’re very involved here. She is very involved here and I love that. It’s a great opportunity for us to that possibility and for her. — Diego Valeri

[Listen to the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri].

It’s been seven years since the Valeri’s came to Portland, and rest assured, the family has very much enjoyed it.

We are now enjoying it and see her growing… Our decision to come to Portland has been amazing for us as a family. — Diego Valeri

Enjoy more in the video above.

Happy Father’s Day from NBC Sports Northwest!

Timbers draw Group F for MLS is Back Tournament

Timbers draw Group F for MLS is Back Tournament

The MLS is back (almost)! 

On Wednesday the league announced its return in the MLS is Back Tournament, a World Cup-style tournament to be played at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. 

Like the World Cup, all 26 teams will compete in group stages, with 16 teams advancing to the "Knockout Stage."

The groups were drawn on Thursday afternoon, and the Portland Timbers found themselves in Group F, one of the toughest groups of the tournament. 

They will be joined by LAFC, the LA Galaxy, and the Houston Dynamo. 

During group play, each team will play three matches. At the end of those three matches, the top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout round, as well as the four third-place teams with the best records.

The knockout round will be a single-elimination tournament to decide the overall winner. If games in the knockout round are tied at the end of regulation, they will immediately advance to penalty kicks to decide a winner.

Teams are scheduled to arrive in Orlando for the start of "preseason" training on June 24th, with the first group stage games beginning on July 8th. 

The knockout round will start on July 25, with the championship game scheduled for August 11th. 

 

 

Portland Timbers, MLS to return to play with tournament held at Disney World this July 

Portland Timbers, MLS to return to play with tournament held at Disney World this July 

Major League Soccer will return this summer at the Happiest Place on Earth.

The league announced Wednesday morning that it will resume its season July 8 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. All 26 teams will take part in the “MLS is Back Tournament,” where 54 matches (39 group stage, 15 knockout round) will be played. 

Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson shared his excitement for the restart of the 2020 season. 

For the MLS is Back Tournament, 26 MLS teams will be drawn into six groups on Thursday at 12:30 PT. 

As the host team, Orlando City will be the "top seed" in the six-team group. The other seeds go to last season's four playoff semifinalists (Atlanta United, Toronto FC, Seattle Sounders, LAFC) and the team in the West that had the next-highest points total last season, which is Real Salt Lake.

The remaining 20 teams, including the Timbers, will be split at random into the six groups. 

Teams will arrive in Orlando on June 24 to begin training with opening day slated for July 8. The group stage will go until July 23, with a day off before the round of 16 (July 25-28). The quarterfinals are expected to be held July 30-Aug. 1, the semifinals Aug. 5-6 and the championship on Aug. 11.

The MLS broke down safety protocols which must be followed, including changes to goal celebrations. Here are a few of the key measures: 

  • All clubs must arrive no later than seven days before their first match
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests will be issued to all essential members of the tournament this can detect an active COVID-19 infection. If a player or personnel test positive, they will not be allowed to travel and will be overseen by club medical staff. 
  • Only after receiving a negative test result, will players and staff be able to begin training. 
  • Tests will be given out every other day for the first 14 days following arrival to Orlando, in addition to selftemperature screenings and standardized screening questionnaires. 
  • Players, coaches and officials are asked to exercise care when spitting or clearing their nose.
  • Players, coaches and officials located on the bench or technical area are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
  • During a game, players have been asked to not exchange jerseys or kiss the ball.

MLS is the first league to restart its season at Disney but aren’t expected to be the last. The NBA is also expected to resume the 2019-20 season on July 31 inside Walt Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

Key details from the MLS teams returning to full team training

Key details from the MLS teams returning to full team training

The MLS has taken the next step towards playing games.

One day after coming to an agreement with the MLSPA on a ratified CBA, avoiding a lockout in the process, the league announced Thursday it has lifted the team training moratorium implemented on March 12 due to COVID-19. 

[RELATED]: MLS avoids lockout and the Portland Timbers will play this summer

The decision paves the way for teams to return full team training: a crucial and mandatory step towards returning to the pitch to play games. 

The MLS plans to begin with a tournament to be held at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, coincidentally the same location as the NBA season. Teams are expected to arrive in three weeks, per ESPN

MLS teams have been running their players through individual drills since May 6, including the Portland Timbers who have been playing games since May 7. 

With player safety at the forefront, the league requires frequent testing of all players including the following:

  • All players will be completing a physical examination, and all players and staff must complete two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests 24 hours apart, 72 hours prior to the start of training, and undergo one baseline antibody (serology) test. 
  • Players must be cleared to train by their medical staff and have PCR tests, taken every other day, come back negative during before participating in full team training. 
  • If a player or staff member tests positive, the individual will be isolated. The isolated individual will be tested again at least 24 hours later to ensure the result was not a false positive. All close contacts will be tested immediately. Contact tracing will be performed at the direction of the club’s COVID-19 task force and local authorities.
  • A player or staff member that tests positive for COVID-19 may return to training only when cleared by the club’s Chief Medical Officer in consultation with the league medical team. The club’s Chief Medical Officer will also be responsible for clearing the attendance of any player or staff considered to be in a high-risk category for severe illness related to COVID-19. 
  • Once cleared, clubs will have the full use of their training facilities. 

The training room, gyms and fitness areas will be restricted to no more than five individuals at any time while maintaining physical distancing standards. Those areas must be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected following every session in accordance with MLS protocols and all equipment and laundry must be cleaned and disinfected after each use. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Fyre and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon with special guest Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers. 

MLS avoids lockout and the Portland Timbers will play this summer

MLS avoids lockout and the Portland Timbers will play this summer

Facing a potential lockout, the MLS and MLSPA have agreed to a ratified CBA that will allow the teams to play this summer and avoid further stoppage. 

The CBA, originally agreed to in February 2020, has been extended one year until January 31, 2026, with 2020's terms rolling over into 2021, 2021's terms rolling over into 2022, etc. 

Per ESPN, players have agreed to an across-the-board 7.5% pay cut that will kick in for the May 31 payroll period. Performance and individual bonuses will be capped at $5 million this season.

"MLS Players today ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, which will run through the 2025 season," the MLSPA said in a statement. "Today's vote also finalizes a plan to resume the 2020 season and provides players with certainty for the months ahead. It allows our members to move forward and continue to compete in the game they love."

With a deal in place, the MLS can go ahead with returning to the pitch beginning with a tournament to be held at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, coincidentally the same location as the NBA season. Teams are expected to arrive in three weeks, per ESPN

The MLS season has been suspended since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league returned to individual workouts on May 6, with the Timbers returning for workouts on May 7.  

In the original CBA, revenue sharing tied to an expected new broadcasting deal in 2023 had 25% of the $100 million broadcast rights fee be set aside for each team's salary budget. Now, in 2023 it'll only be 12.5% while going back up to 25% in 2024. 

The Player's Association while speaking about the new agreement also said they are committed to helping society as much as they can. 

"We recognize that we are all moving forward -- as players, as fans, as societies, as a world -- into a future that looks much different than the one we envisioned a few months ago," the MLSPA added. "There are problems we face collectively that are both more urgent, and more important, than competing on the field.

"We are grieving, we are fed up, we expect change, and we expect action. This change won't come on the field, but it will come partly through the force and determination of all who seek justice and equality. We hope our return to the field will allow fans a momentary release and a semblance of normalcy.

"We are committed as a group to doing all that we can -- both as leaders in our sport as well as leaders in our communities -- to help carry our countries, our communities, our league, and our sport forward."