Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri has been named the 2015 Audi MLS Cup MVP for his starring role in the Timbers' 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew on Sunday in the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Final. Valeri opened the scoring in the 1st minute when he knicked the ball off the foot of Columbus keeper Steve Clark in his own penalty area and sent the ball into the back of the net.
It was far from the prettiest goal which Valeri will ever score, but it is the most important he has ever tallied in a Timbers uniform. The midfielder had clearly done his homework in the lead up to the match, and knew that Clark has a bad habit of dallying on the ball when in possession. He sensed this just 25 seconds after the opening whistle had sounded, and it paid off for the Timbers.
In spite of the flying beginning to the match, Valeri did not stop there. He dictated play all game long for the Cascadia club, and was the chief architect of a number of other scoring chances. Ever since the middle of the season when manager Caleb Porter tactically changed his side and pushed Valeri and midfielder Darlington Nagbe forward, the Timbers have enjoyed a new lease on life.
The reconfigured Portland midfield dominated the game on Sunday, as Valeri and Nagbe pulled the attacking strings and defensive midfielder Diego Chara constantly patrolled the middle of the park, breaking up promising Columbus play all game long. Those three operating in the way that they did on Sunday is the reason why the Timbers have gone on their magical run over the last several weeks, and they are the reason the club lifted their first ever MLS Cup on Sunday. There was no one else that the award could have gone to.