You may most vividly remember Diego Valeri as the guy who has tormented Seattle Sounders fans about as much as anyone in the history of the rivalry with Portland Timbers. But since leaving the Timbers after 2021, it's been a lot easier to appreciate the guy who's more than his on-field performance.
That's been especially true over the last year or so, when Valeri joined the MLS Season Pass broadcast team. He's officially a Spanish-language analyst, but he's also been challenging himself to do more interviews in English and is a regular guest on the ExtraTime podcast.
As it were, he's also a former teammate of Pedro de la Vega at Lanús, as well as an avid follower of the club. There are few people in the media world who have more insight into the new Sounders signing than Valeri.
It was under that pretense that I asked Valeri to be a guest on our podcast. As you might imagine, he was very gracious and had a lot of awfully nice things to say.
"He’s a smart player," Valeri said about de la Vega. "He rose fast. He’s a top player, a national team player, one of the best in the league. He has many technical resources to add to the game. You think he’s a winger, but he can join as a second striker, playing with Raúl or Morris. He can play as an attacking midfielder in five at the back. He has a big sense of team spirit. He’s always thinking about the game, collectively. He can dribble, take 1v1s, he is a good header, good in the box, good long-distance shot. But he collectively can help a lot with how the team works. It’s a right decision for Seattle to take someone who can take the 10 and have that sense team spirit."
We also chatted about his experience at the UW-Oregon football game he attended with Nicolás Lodeiro, noting that he got to experience it in the same way as virtually any other fan.
Suffice it to say, the vast majority of our discussion centered around de la Vega and how he might adapt to MLS. Valeri is very bullish on him, to put it mildly.
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