Fort Mill, S.C.
We sat down with Diego Valeri ahead of the 2018 Major League Soccer (MLS) season. The Portland Timbers player provided some insight into the team, his goals, and Timbers fans. He also told us about a funny travel story, so be sure to read through to the end!
Q. How important is team camaraderie?
A. It is very important in any team and in any sport. To be united and to have the same mindset and spirit is important. The morale of the team has to be realistic but in a positive perspective. So if we are going through a bad moment we keep our goals ahead of us and think about how many times we did well. And from that, and our supporters, we keep on.
Q. How do you set goals for yourself?
A. I go game by game. I think that is the best way in order to be competitive. Our conference is very balanced. You have probably a couple long term goals in the season and you define the goal which is always to win a title, and you know you can do it. And then you have short term goals which can be maybe the first 10 games or home games. That’s how you evaluate your quality and progress.
Q. How much does the passion of the crowd motivate you while you’re playing?
A. I think our motivation IS our crowd. We have a special stadium and special supporters. The energy and the support they give us is insane so it’s a huge motivation for us at every home game. (When you play an away game) it affects you in different ways. At my age, I can use that in a good way. It is energy for me. It’s good noise and it gives you extra energy.
Q. Away from the game, do you play any soccer videogames?
A. I play video games and I think I’m pretty good. I grew up playing so yes I like it. I play FIFA – that’s the only one I play. Which team I play for depends, I play for Barcelona, Arsenal, I switch through lots of teams.
Q. Do you have any fun travel stories?
A. One time we missed a flight. We were going from Honduras to Dallas and we had plenty of time so we were eating dinner and spending time in the airport. In front of us, there were some Timbers staff but they were waiting for ANOTHER plane. We thought that since they were there, we thought we were okay. We didn’t check our phones, and we heard the phone and we realized we were late. We ran to the gate and the plane was just pulling away. We missed it and couldn’t believe it. It was funny because it was like a movie, to look through the window and see the gate closing, and the plane going. It was like a movie! They put us on a new flight, but it was crazy!