This week, the Portland Timbers signed Diego Valeri to a multi-year contract extension. The deal is the perfect offseason foundation to build an elite MLS team.
The Portland Timbers announced the signing of midfielder Diego Valeri to a multi-year contract extension on Monday. The exact details of the deal were not disclosed, but it was completed with the use of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), which is crucial to note.
It was a necessary step to move forward into the season, and with preparations now stepping up a gear this offseason, Portland can focus on filling open Designated Player slots.
Valeri, 33, was looking to be locked down over the summer with an offer from the Timbers front office. But the club didn’t appear to want to offer DP money in order to get him, keen to keep one of the three slots on another player to supplement Valeri’s creativity.
Waiting until the winter and still being able to TAM to secure this deal, then, was key. After the recent loss of Brian Fernandez, this leaves two DP slots open going into the middle of December.
The Timbers have a lot of work to do fill out their squad, especially if they want to reconstruct the attack that saw them only just sneak into the playoffs, but they now have the roster flexibility to do so. Signing a player of Valeri’s quality and calibre to a TAM deal is hugely freeing.
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Valeri has become a Timbers legend after arriving in MLS. He was awarded the Newcomer of the Year award in 2013, helped lead them to their lone MLS Cup in 2015 on his way to MLS Cup MVP honors and was named MLS MVP in 2017. He is also a four-time MLS All-Star and three-time MLS Best XI selection, proving both his quality and consistency throughout his time in the Pacific Northwest.
And now he will extend his tenure in Portland. The Timbers open the season on March 1st at home against Minnesota United with hopes of again qualifying for the postseason and making a run at MLS Cup. Valeri will unquestionably be a key part of the process, but it is now on the front office and Gio Savarese to provide the talent around the Argentinian to assemble a team capable of challenging the MLS elite — while Portland won MLS Cup in 2015, their great rivals, Seattle, have won two of the last four and featured in three of the last four.
The Portland Timbers need a true center-forward. While Jeremy Ebobisse has proven a capable goalscorer, he is not on the level of the elite goalscoring strikers across the league, and another wide attacker opposite of the lone DP, Sebastian Blanco, would not go amiss either.
There is the makings of an excellent team in Portland, as there almost always is. They now have work to do to ensure that this great team is indeed assembled, but securing Valeri on TAM deal is the perfect foundation to a season-defining offseason.