Feb 21, 2014, 7:31 PM EST
The Portland Timbers could get a major boost with the season starting in just over two weeks.
2013 leading scorer Diego Valeri, whose recovery from a sports hernia is taking longer than expected, could return to game action this Sunday, and could possibly be ready for opening day.
With a friendly against San Jose on the horizon this weekend, Valeri has returned to training and according to head coach Caleb Porter, it’s possible he gets back on the field sooner or later.
“Valeri was back in training today full out for the first time, and he looked good and felt good.”
The news is great for Timbers fans, who saw their 27-year-old talisman struggle with fitness during last year’s stretch run. In Portland’s nine regular season games after his injury against Real Salt Lake, Valeri averaged just 38 minutes per match.
Oddly enough, he scored five of his season’s 10 goals in that span, but come playoff time he was in and out of matches.
Originally listed as an adductor injury, it took six weeks for reports to emerge that he in fact was carrying a hernia.
A month and a half after his injury was sustained, it was obvious he was struggling. Porter said at the time, “You saw it in Vancouver – he was sore. He went in the game, he’s sore. He couldn’t run. He could barely give us what we needed and then in training he was sore.”
The Argentinian, whom Porter in the past called “one of our best players,” could be ready for opening day if all goes well, a prospect that was thrown into doubt the longer it took him to get back to training.
“If things go as planned, it might be tough to keep him out of the lineup on March 8,” Porter admitted. It’s hard to imagine Timbers fans complaining about that possibility.
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