TUCSON, Ariz. — It was only a 45-minute debut for Diego Valeri, but the Portland Timbers Designated Player has already delivered promising glimpses of what his new team expects from him.
"I saw what I thought I would see," said Portland head coach Caleb Porter after his team's 3-1 win over Colorado in the opening match of the Desert Friendlies. "He's a game-changer. He understands the game and understands the flow of the game.
"He knows how to unlock a team with passing. He had some good moments today."
Valeri scored his first goal in a Timbers uniform against the Rapids, something he did twice last season and 26 times during his career with his hometown club Club Atlético Lanús.
The Argentinean’s performance suggested he’s handling his adjustment to a new team in a new country well. And though he still may not know English, Porter is impressed that Valeri and the rest of the Timbers attack seem to have gotten used to one other quickly.
"Eight days in, to see a three- or four-man attacking sequence is a positive for me," Porter said. "Usually it takes a bit longer to gel. It was interesting to see that [Darlington] Nagbe and Ryan [Johnson] and Valeri have already formed a relationship and partnership."
Meanwhile, the Rapids offense has two days to gel further, with their next Desert Friendlies match set for Thursday against the defending Eastern Conference champion Houston Dynamo (8 pm ET, streamed live on MLSsoccer.com).