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Diego Valeri: Portland Timbers midfielder named MLS MVP

By Alex Butler

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Midfielder Diego Valeri won the 2017 Landon Donovan MLS MVP award after earning more than 50 percent of the vote.

The Portland Timbers star had 21 goals and 11 assists this season. Valeri is a three-time MLS Best XI selection and a four-time MLS All-Star.

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The Argentina product joined the MLS in 2013. He has been with the team for five seasons. Valeri's 32 combined goals and assists were the most in the league this season and tied for No. 5 in MLS history.

He is just the second player in league history to have 20 or more goals and 10 or more assists in the same season.

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Valeri is the seventh South American to win the MLS MVP award and third from Argentina.

"Scoring the third-most goals in the league in 2017 in 32 regular-season games played, Valeri set an MLS record for goals by a midfielder in a single season, surpassing the previous mark [18] originally set by Preki in 1996," the Timbers said in a news release.

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It was a picture-perfect season for Diego Valeri. 📷 A look at the best photos from his 2017 MLS MVP season.

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"As part of his 21-goal production, the Argentinian midfielder also set a new league record for consecutive regular-season games [9] with a goal - two more games than the previous record - scoring 10 goals from July 29-Sept. 24 to help guide the Timbers to a 5-2-2 record during the final stretch of the season. Additionally, leading the league in game-winning goals [7] in the regular season, Valeri also scored against 19 of the 22 teams in MLS, earning MLS Team of the Week honors nine times, which was the most by a single player in 2017."

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Valeri has 58 goals and 53 assists in 148 regular-season games for the Timbers. He is the third-fastest player in MLS history to reach the 50-50 plateau.

David Villa finished No. 2 in the MVP voting, which is compiled by MLS club management, media and MLS players. Nemanja Nikolic finished third and Sebastian Giovinco finished in fourth place.

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