According to most MLS prognosticators, the Portland Timbers are one of the best teams in the league when healthy. I happen to concur with those experts. When they are at full health, the Timbers are nearly unstoppable, especially in the attacking end of the field. Last weekend however, the 2015 MLS Cup champions were missing two of their most important players in Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe and their absences showed as the Timbers fell hard, 3-0, to San Jose.
It’s clear as day that both Nagbe and Valeri are vital to the Timbers’ successes. So, the question now is whether or not they’ll be able to play against Atlanta United on Sunday or not. According to Portland’s manager Caleb Porter, the answer isn’t clear yet. Valeri returned to training this week and appears set to play this weekend, while Nagbe trained separate from the team on Wednesday and is more in doubt.
"We'll obviously know more as the week goes along," Porter said. "I'd say Valeri is likely, unless, you never know, you have some setbacks. Darlington, we just don't know yet." — Caleb Porter; Source: Oregon Live
The availability of both players could be the difference between picking up valuable away points and suffering a third straight loss for Atlanta United. Fans of the Timbers over at our fellow SB Nation site Stumptown Footy are hoping that both are able to play as the team is clearly not the same without them.
While Valeri is the team’s vital playmaker, it’s Nagbe’s work on both sides of the ball that often goes under-appreciated. Should either one not be able to start on Sunday it would be a big boost for Atlanta’s chances to get a result in the tough environment at Providence Park.