Should Diego Valeri next take the field for the Portland Timbers on Sunday against the Seattle Sounders (1:30pm PT, ESPN), he will playing his 80th regular season match for the club. And Valeri's stats over that period put him in some rarefied air in MLS history.
With 79 games under his belt, Valeri has scored 23 goals and notched 32 assists. He is just the eighth player ever to score 20 or more goals and contribute 30 or more assists in the first 80 games of their MLS career.
The Argentine maestro joins MLS players Preki, Jaime Moreno, Maurico Cienfuegos, Eric Wynalda, Amado Guevara, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and Robbie Keane. Four of those players played in the MLS's debut season of 1996 while Valeri joins Keane as the only active MLS players who recorded the 20-30 feat in their first 80 games. In an interesting coincidentally aside, after his playing career, Schelotto became Valeri's manager at Argentina Primera side Lanús.
Since his debut in March 2013, Valeri is tied for the most assists in the league with Keane and is just one of three active players with 20 goals and 25 assists in that timespan (Keane, RSL's Javier Morales).
In his MLS career, it is not just the stats that showcase Valeri's quick emergence as a star. The Timbers midfielder was named to the MLS Best XI in each of his first two seasons, becoming the seventh player to make the Best XI teams in each of his first two seasons. Out of those seven players, only Valeri and Schelotto debuted in MLS after the turn of the century.
Portland's record books have also been rewritten since Valeri came to the Rose City. Valeri's 14 assists last season tied the 1980 season of John Bain for most assists in a single season in club history. And despite playing less than 80 matches, Valeri ranks in the top-5 in career assists and points for Timbers, while also placing in the top-10 for goals.