From apparent odd-man out, defender battles back and turns in a key performance

Early in the season, with Alvas Powell seemingly locked in as the Portland Timbers' right back, and with Vytas and Marco Farfan manning the left-back slot, Zarek Valentin could have felt like an odd-man out. But that did not keep the 25-year-old from sticking with the process — a favorite phrase of coach Caleb Porter.

Valentin dropped down and used three appearances with Timbers 2 (April 16 and 22, May 10) to stay game sharp. He kept competing in practice.

Ultimately, his training form and ability to keep possession, along with the matchups presented by Seattle on May 27 and San Jose last Friday, earned him back-to-back MLS starts in those games.

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