MLS MVP? Portland Timbers' Diego Valeri sets loftier goals

PORTLAND, Ore.—Chants of “MVP” cascaded throughout Providence Park when Diego Valeri was presented with his log slabs following the Timbers 3-0 defeat of Orlando City SC Sunday night.

With his brace, Valeri has catapulted not only to the the top of the Golden Boot race with 20 goals, but his performance has firmly planted the Argentinian Troesma right in the thick of the Most Valuable Player conversation.

Valeri has now scored 10 goals over nine matches and his MLS record goal-scoring streak has now reached nine consecutive games.

“Any time guys are scoring goals at the rate that he is, it’s a confidence thing. [Valeri] is just riding the wave,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “He’s always scored goals. He’s always played well. He’s riding a tidal wave of confidence. And we hope it continues.”

“When you're confident,” Porter said, “things seem to slow down and he’s certainly making it look easy right now.”

Valeri’s scoring surge could hardly have come at a better time for the Timbers, who have been hamstrung with numerous injuries throughout the season. The latest casualty being striker Fanendo Adi for the last seven games as the Nigerian has been sidelined with a leg injury. Instead of struggling, the Timbers have ridden Valeri’s streak, going 4-2-1 since losing Adi on August 6.

“Big players on big teams produce,” Porter said. “The teams that are doing well--look at the table--they all’ve got guys that are producing. When you score goals, you win games. Good teams have players on those teams who are scoring goals.”

With the regular season drawing to a close, Porter is not thinking too much about the league MVP race yet.

“Obviously I’m biased,” he said. “At the end of the year when the voting happens, I want him to win. But I’m not thinking about it, he’s not thinking about it. The best thing we can do is keep winning games.”

For Valeri, his record-setting streak takes a backseat to the team continuing to secure a playoff spot. The Timbers are currently second in the West with 47 points, one behind the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

“We believe in the quality of this team,” Valeri said. ”In the moments we didn’t get the points we got that confidence  and remained strong in that moment. Now we are winning and we are getting points that says we kept the confidence.”

With four games to make his case, Valeri’s ambitions are clear.

“We want to play better and win a trophy,” he said.