PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that the club has signed defender Zarek Valentin to a new contract.
Valentin, 27, has played the past three seasons (2016-18) for the Timbers, making 71 regular-season appearances (65 starts) and registering one goal and five assists during that span. During the 2018 season, Valentin set career-bests in appearances (32), starts (30) and minutes played (2,721) during the regular season. Valentin, who appeared in 40 games across all competitions in 2018, made his first postseason appearance during the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, eventually making six appearances (5 starts) and logging 457 minutes played as the Timbers advanced to their second MLS Cup in four seasons.
During his time with the Timbers, Valentin is a two-time honoree of the club’s Community MVP award (2016, 2018) in recognition of his additional contributions off the field.
“Zarek is a superb professional and has been a tremendous addition to this club in every way,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “His desire to remain in Portland matched our desire to re-sign him, and we are delighted to keep him in Portland and look forward to his continued contributions.”
In 2017, Valentin set a career-high with three assists, while appearing in 19 matches (17 starts) and logging 1,547 minutes, as the Timbers finished the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference. In his first season with the Timbers in 2016, Valentin made 20 appearances (18 starts), tallying a goal and an assist in 1,607 minutes played. Valentin scored his first goal as a member of the Timbers against the LA Galaxy at Providence Park on July 23, 2016.
“Zarek played an important part in our success this season and we are very pleased to re-sign him,” said Giovanni Savarese, head coach of the Timbers. “He is an intelligent and versatile player for us, and one who consistently executes everything asked of him to benefit the team.”
The fourth overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by Chivas USA, Valentin made 25 appearances (24 starts) during his rookie season. Following one season with Chivas USA, Valentin was selected by the Montreal Impact with the second overall pick in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft. The versatile defender made 15 appearances (14 starts) during Montreal’s inaugural MLS season in 2012 before being loaned to Norwegian side FK Bodø/Glimt for the 2013 season.
The Lancaster, Pa., native made 55 league appearances with Bodø/Glimt across parts of three seasons from 2013-15, helping the side gain promotion to the Tippeligaen following the 2013 season. Valentin re-joined the Norwegian club permanently ahead of the 2014 Tippeligaen season and helped the side remain in the top flight for back-to-back seasons. A standout at the University of Akron prior to beginning his professional career, Valentin helped guide the Zips to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA College Cup, winning the program’s first NCAA National Championship in 2010.
Transaction: Portland Timbers sign defender Zarek Valentin to a new contract on Dec. 10, 2018.