Timbers duo nabs MLS awards

A day after being named to the league's Best XI, Portland Timbers duo Diego Valeri and Donovan Ricketts each picked up an individual award.
The Portland Timbers continued to rack up the postseason awards as MLS announced two more winners Wednesday.

Diego Valeri, an Argentine midfielder, overwhelmingly won the vote for Newcomer of the Year. Valeri scored 10 goals and led the league in assists with 13 in his debut season as he helped spur the resurgent Timbers to first place in the Western Conference. Valeri joined the Timbers before the season on a loan from Lanus in his native country. The Timbers opted to buy his contract in August, locking him in to a multi-year deal.

In contrast to Valeri's landslide win, teammate Donovan Ricketts was elected the Goalkeeper of the Year by the slimmest margin of any award announced so far this year. He carried the club representative and player vote, but finished second to Nick Rimando among media members, according to a MLS release.

It's the second time Ricketts has been named the league's top backstop. He won in 2010 when he was playing with the LA Galaxy. The Jamaican international was acquired by the Timbers last season in a swap with the Montreal Impact. The move surprised players and fans in Portland but has worked out in the club's favor after Ricketts led the team to 14 shutouts.

Both were named to the league's Best XI on Tuesday as part of a Timbers team that won the Western Conference, but finished 2013 without a trophy after being bounced from the playoffs by Real Salt Lake in the conference finals. There's plenty of reason for enthusiasm, though, with first-year coach Caleb Porter named the Coach of the Year earlier in the week for orchestrating the turnaround.

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