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.