Diego Valeri, Timbers vs. Crew, 12.6.16
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Know Your Portland Timbers: The 2016 Midfielders

The midfield engine of the Portland Timbers are prepared for Sunday's MLS regular season opener against Columbus Crew SC (1:30pm PT, ESPN). Find out more about each of the team's midfielders.

#11 - Dairon Asprilla
-- Made his Timbers and MLS debut on March 7 against Real Salt Lake, starting and playing 62 minutes.
-- A native of Istmina, Colombia, Asprilla made 71 regular-season appearances for then-second division club Alianza Petrolera after joining the team on loan from Colombian first division Atlético Nacional in 2012.
-- Tallied three assists during the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, including assisting the game-tying goal in the one-game playoff against Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 29. He also scored a golazo against FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference Finals.

#27 - Nick Besler
-- Drafted in the first-round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft with the fifth overall pick, Besler made 25 appearances for T2 on loan in 2015.
-- Registered a goal in a 4-3 T2 win against Newcastle United of the English Premier League on July 21.
-- Appeared in 72 matches for Notre Dame University, helping lead them to a 2013 NCAA Championship.

#25 - Neco Brett
-- Selected by the Portland Timbers in second round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, No. 40 overall.
-- Represented Jamaica at both U17 and U20 levels, including scoring against Honduras at the CONCACAF U20 championship.
-- Played club soccer for both Portmore United and Harbour View FC before playing collegiately at Robert Morris University. In college, Brett scored 42 goals in 67 matches.

#21 - Diego Chara
-- Chara had 87 successful tackles in 2015, good for 4th-highest in MLS.
-- Started his professional career at the age of 17 with Deportes Quindío in 2004 and appeared in 206 league matches over eight seasons in Colombia’s first division, playing for Quindío (2004-08), América de Cali (2009) and Tolima (2010-11).
-- In 2015, Chara was named Supporters' Player of the Year following the Oct. 25 match against Colorado.

#13 - Jack Jewsbury
-- Coming into his 14th season, the veteran midfielder Jewsbury has over 300 career MLS games under his belt.
-- Jewsbury scored three goals in 2015, two of which were stoppage time game-winners: the first being a 2-1 win on May 30 vs. Colorado and a 1-0 winner against San Jose on July 5.
-- In 2011, Jewsbury became Portland's first-ever All-Star when he was named to the 2011 MLS All-Star Team.

#10 - Ned Grabavoy
-- Signed by the Timbers on January 12, 2016 as a free agent.
-- Grabavoy has made 279 league appearances (220 starts) during a 12-year MLS career and most recently registered two goals and three assists in 26 games (22 starts) for New York City FC in their inaugural season in 2015.
-- A two-time MLS Cup-winning midfielder, Grabavoy made 159 appearances for Real Salt Lake from 2009-14, helping the club win MLS Cup in 2009 before reaching the final again in 2013.

#6 - Darlington Nagbe
-- Nagbe's first career strike – against Sporting Kansas City – was voted the 2011 AT&T MLS Goal of the Year at season’s end, won MLSsoccer.com Goal of the Week honors (Week 16), was named one of the Top Plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter that night and within days surpassed one million views on YouTube.com.
-- Father, Joe, is a former captain of the Liberian National Team.
-- Nagbe earned his first international cap for the United States, playing 26 minutes as a substitute in a 6-1 win against St. Vincent and Grenadines on Nov. 13, 2015.

#8 - Diego Valeri
-- Tallied the game-opening goal, the quickest in MLS Cup history, in a 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC in MLS Cup on Dec. 6, 2015.
-- Had four assists in five matches in the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs, tied for the most in the postseason.
-- Valeri was named to the MLS Best XI in 2013 and 2014, earned the 2013 MLS Newcomer of the year Award, was a member of the 2013 MLS All-Star Team and won MLS Cup MVP honors in 2015.

#14 - Ben Zemanski
-- Before joining the Timbers in 2013, Zemanski made 72 appearances over three seasons with Chivas USA (2010-2012), tallying two goals and seven assists.
-- Comes from soccer family, as his father, Dan, played collegiately at North Carolina and Pittsburgh.
-- Zemanski was college teammates with Darlington Nagbe and Zarek Valentin at the University of Akron.

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