The Portland Timbers knew the first three months of 2019 would be difficult, with enhancements to Providence Park forcing the club to spend the first 12 matches of the season on the road, but after six losses in their first seven games, the Timbers didn't look much like the team that made MLS Cup last season.
“I hope so," Sebastian Blanco told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. "Yes, we started similar last year but now we feel better, more confident. We’ve shown in the last two games different soccer, different spirit.”
With eight games of their monster road trip down and four left, the Timbers are nearing the end of the tunnel.
“It’s not easy," Blanco admitted. "It’s difficult to be focused but we need to be. Twelve games is a lot without family sometimes. ... We need to be professional every time. For now, we feel more calm after two wins and we have a great opportunity to accomplish better results to play more comfortably.”
Blanco may be proof positive how comfortable the Timbers can play. The Designated Player has four assists in his last three games.
“Of course every year I have different goals—this year? I want more than last year: more assists and more goals," Blanco asserted.
Last season, the Argentine had 10 goals and 11 assists in the regular season before adding three goals in the playoffs. Those numbers will be difficult to beat, but Blanco believes in the importance of always pushing yourself.
"I want more," Blanco said. "The 10 [goals] is a difficult number because I’ve never been a player that has too many goals. But I need to change this. Objectives are good. We need objectives every year to be ready.”
Soon, he'll be scoring goals in front of the supporters at Providence Park. Their home opener is set for June 1 against high-flying LAFC and, simply put, he can't wait.
“I saw the new stadium a couple days ago, it looks fantastic. I think, after we won two games, the people will feel more excited for us to play at home.
“(I'm looking forward to it) a lot," Blanco added. "We missed it — I forget how to play at home!”