Diego Valeri netted the 100th goal of his storied Portland Timbers career on Wednesday night in a 2-1 win over LAFC at Providence Park. After the match, head coach Giovanni Savarese was effusive in his praise for the team captain.
"I think it was united from a team that put everything into this match, and very good goals from Diego Valeri – 100 goals in Major League Soccer, which is an unbelievable achievement, and [Felipe] Mora being able to provide a winner, late in the game," Savarese said. "Always, LAFC against Portland Timbers are great matches, and it didn't disappoint again today."
Asked specifically about Valeri and his leadership role, Savarese added: "It's unbelievable for this league, he's been a role model for this club, and he's given everything that he has to this organization on the field. So it's been a pleasure to be able to see him perform, and he's done some great things with the help also of his teammates. It's a great achievement. I think he's a quality player and he's done very, very well for this club."
GOAL: Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers - 2nd minute
The Timbers' social media team thought the 2nd-minute goal was good enough and significant enough to put it in slow motion and share on its Twitter account.
Valeri, made available to media after the match, was ecstatic both about reaching the century mark in all-competition goals and the night as a whole.
"This is really special for me here," the 35-year-old Argentine midfielder said. "With these colors, it's not easy. I'm very happy about it and obviously happy about winning tonight."
Valeri, who has also reached the century mark in assists for the Timbers, reflected: "When I arrived here, I never imagined being at this point ... It means I did my best. I'm always trying to be better as a professional in my role, trying to give what the team needs. It's really special for me to achieve this in these colors, and for me, it's a blessing."
It was all made sweeter that Valeri reached the milestone before a capacity crowd at Providence Park – a recent development for the Timbers given pandemic-related limitations in the early part of the season. Valeri termed hearing a full-throated, full-stadium celebration of his history-making goal "amazing."
"It's so beautiful to have that feeling of a full stadium, of our home supporters supporting us and being on our side," Valeri, who joined in 2013 from Lanus, said. "To just feel their energy the whole game, and then at the last minute, when Felipe scored ... it was so awesome."
With the win, the Timbers are sixth in the Western Conference standings – one rung below LAFC, but holding playoff position on a historic night for the club.