Zarek Chase Valentin (born August 6, 1991) is an American soccer player who currently plays for Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer.
College and amateur
Valentin graduated from Manheim Township High School before enrolling at the University of Akron in 2009. He started all 25 games for the Zips in his freshman year, and was off the field for only 11 minutes. He was a key contributor in defense and allowed just seven goals all season, helping them finish with a (23-1-0) season until ultimately losing in penalties during the NCAA National Championship in 2009. Although the team didn't take home the title, this was their first year making it to the finals. During just his first year in Ohio, amongst many recognitions, he was named Mid-American Conference Newcomer of the Year, College Soccer News All-Freshman First Team, All-MAC First Team, University of Akron All-Tournament Team Defensive MVP (Sept. 18-20), and made the College Soccer News Freshman Top 100 list.
In his 2010 season at the University of Akron, Valentin helped lead his team to the NCAA Men's Division I Soccer Championship, where the team won the school's first ever National Championship. As an important part of the defense, Valentin let in only 16 goals over the entire season.
During his college years Valentin also played with Reading Rage and the Michigan Bucks in the USL Premier Development League.
At the completion of his 2010 season at the University of Akron, Valentin chose to forgo his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility, declaring for the MLS SuperDraft and signing a Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer as one of eleven players that year.
Valentin was drafted in the first round, fourth overall, of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by Chivas USA. He made his professional debut on March 19, 2011, in Chivas's first game of the 2011 MLS Season, a 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City.
After just one year in the Generation Adidas program, Valentin graduated and was announced by the MLS as a 2011 Generation Adidas graduate. This accomplishment made Valentin one of three players to ever graduate from the program in one year. In the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft, Chivas USA took a risk with Valentin, leaving him exposed and was ultimately selected by expansion side Montreal Impact.
Valentin joined Adeccoligaen club FK Bodø/Glimt on loan on March 27, 2013, until the end of the year. Following a successful season that saw the club promoted, Valentin signed a permanent deal.
On January 12, 2016, The Portland Timbers have acquired defender Zarek Valentin from the Montreal Impact in exchange for an international roster slot for the 2016 season.