PORTLAND, Ore. – Nashville SC today selected Portland Timbers defender Zarek Valentin with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft.
Valentin, 28, appeared in 107 matches (96 starts) and tallied seven assists across all competitions for the Timbers after joining the club at the beginning of the 2016 season in a trade with the Montreal Impact. In six MLS seasons, Valentin has made 132 appearances (120 starts), logging two goals and six assists.
“There was always a strong likelihood that we were always going to lose a player in the expansion draft given our depth and talent,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers. “Zarek was an important player for the Timbers and one that will be tough to replace given his versatility, locker room presence and community involvement and we wish him, his wife Elizabeth and their son Cameron all the best.”
A native of Lancaster, Pa., Valentin was a three-time winner of the club’s Community MVP Award (2016, 2018, 2019). In 2018, Valentin logged a career-high 32 appearances (30 starts) for the Timbers, helping Portland claim the Western Conference Championship and a berth against Atlanta United FC in MLS Cup.
“Zarek has not only been a fantastic person to work with, but also an instrumental player for the club during the past four seasons,” said Giovanni Savarese, head coach of the Timbers. “We wish Zarek and his family the best moving forward in the next step of his career.”
Both Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC participated in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft, each selecting up to five players to help build their respective rosters ahead of the 2020 MLS season. D.C. United, FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC were exempt from the Expansion Draft, having had a player selected in the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft. All 19 remaining teams were allowed to protect 12 players from selection. Additionally, MLS Homegrown Players ages 25 and under (those born during or after 1994), as well as Generation adidas players that did not graduate from the program following the 2019 season were automatically protected, therefore clubs did not need to use one of their 12 selections to protect them.