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Portland set to welcome Diego Valeri back for Sunday's match vs. Seattle

BEAVERTON, OR – The Portland Timbers have been without Diego Valeri since the Argentine playmaker picked up an ankle injury in the side's 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy in the US Open Cup on June 29.

Now, however, Valeri is fit and ready to make his return just in time for Sunday's Cascadia Cup derby against the Seattle Sounders. "Valeri will be in," Caleb Porter told the press after training on Friday. "He will be starting the game and he looks great."

With Portland sitting just below the red line in the Western Conference, Valeri's return could be just the boost that the Timbers need to work their way up the table.

"The Maestro", as Timbers fans refer to Valeri, has already made his mark. Over the course of 16 games so far this season, Valeri has scored seven goals, provided five assists, and been one of the league's most prolific chance creators.

The Timbers' primary playmaker has been close to returning since the start of the week, but it was not until Friday that he turned the corner in his recovery, Porter told reporters.

"He could kick the ball three or four days ago, but there was a little bit of pain," Porter said. "I was pretty confident that with a little bit more time that pain in kicking would subside. He trained full out today and looked back to normal. He felt good. He will start this game and that couldn't come at a better time."

Over the last three matches without Valeri, the Timbers attack has slowed even as their defense has solidified with the return of team captain Liam Ridgewell to the backline, scoring only once as they drew the Colorado Rapids, New York Red Bulls, and Montreal Impact.

"He's a great player," Ridgewell said, after training, of Valeri. "When you get the ball you are trying to look for Diego or [Darlington Nagbe], so it is an added bonus for us and another worry for Seattle."

In three years of rivalry matches against Seattle, Valeri has recorded two goals and two assists, including one in the two teams' 2013 playoff series, which the Timbers won 5-3 on aggregate.