Diego Valeri unconcerned with MVP talk

The Argentine has been in sparkling form for the Timbers but dismissed speculation about his contending for personal honors.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- With his third goal in as many games at a crucial juncture in the season and the league lead in assists, Portland Timbers playmaker Diego Valeri could be forgiven for feeling good about himself, for reveling in the torrent of acclaim and the MVP buzz that has started to gather around him.

In reality, he's not bothered by the talk.

"I play for my team," he said after scoring the only goal in Portland's crucial 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. "I don't think about that, really. I want to be a champion, to say I'm going to the playoffs, and that's more important than everything."

If he isn't willing to take the spotlight for himself, those around him are more than willing to shine it on the exploits of the 27-year-old Argentine.

"Diego... that was class," said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter of Valeri's chip past Clint Irwin for the only goal of the evening. "And that's what he is, he's a class player.

"I'm biased obviously, I love him. He's one of the best players in the league, no question about it. I don't pick (individual awards), I don't decide those things. I think the better we do, obviously it's the better he's doing, and those decisions will be made at the end of the year.

"I can tell you this, he cares more about winning than he does any individual accomplishment, and that's one of the reasons we love him."

Porter's words were echoed by team captain Will Johnson.

"Diego's been a revelation for this club," said the Canadian midfielder. "I love playing with the guy, it must be a real treat for the city of Portland to watch this guy, he's special. I could stand here all night and bore you to death with kind things to say about Valeri, he's special, but he's so humble it's ridiculous for as good as he is.

"We're fortunate to have him."