Portland Timbers find "different energy" in 7-goal outburst vs. Sporting KC

It was raining goals Saturday night at Providence Park, giving way to a new Portland Timbers record.

The Rose City side’s seven goals were a new high mark, set in a 7-2 rout over Sporting Kansas City and paced by braces from midfielder Sebastian Blanco and debutant forward Nathan Fogaça.

The result featured nearly 40% of the goals Portland have scored during the 2022 campaign, and snapped a four-game winless streak for head coach Giovanni Savarese’s side. A corner turned, perhaps?

“We were not finding the goals, but we were creating opportunities,” Savarese said postgame. “We were finding good spaces. We were there. It’s not that we didn’t create moments in order to find the net.

“Today, things worked out. I think it was a different energy. I think that the guys felt a little bit more determined, focused on what they needed to do and I think you felt that energy on the field, especially in the second half. Everybody played their role and executed very well.”

The match was especially rewarding for Blanco, whose goals were his first of the season. The 34-year-old Argentine midfielder re-signed in February after helping lead Portland to host MLS Cup last year, inking a Designated Player deal.

For Blanco, his fifth career brace in MLS was a moment of great relief. He also notched two assists, putting the lopsided match well out of reach.

“I started this year [with] too many voices talking without knowing what really happened,” Blanco, who’s battled knee troubles, said. “I am the guy who makes a big effort every time, not only in training, but also at home. I’m a very professional guy, everybody can tell you that.

“For me, it’s a relief because only the people who know me know how much I suffer when I don’t have the opportunity to play and feel that happy again inside the field. I only want to help my team. If I can help like today, this is welcome. If not, I will help off the bench or outside, but I want the best for [the] Timbers.”

As for Fogaça, he signed from their MLS NEXT Pro team (Timbers 2) on May 5. In the process, the Brazilian became the first player in Timbers history to score two or more goals in his first-career MLS match.

Fogaça played with first-choice forwards Felipe Mora and Jaroslaw Niezgoda unavailable, proving more than just a depth piece.

“It was the first game that I’ve played here, the first time that I’ve been here at a game,” Fogaça said. “I felt the vibration from the fan base here that they have for the team and the club. That obviously motivates us as players to make a good performance on the field and want to show them and give them more.”

With this historic result, Savarese said they seized a “special night” at their home stadium.

“Winning the 100th [MLS] match, in Providence Park, being able to score these goals that we needed because we were really struggling in finding the net,” Savarese said. “Not because we haven’t created opportunities. We’ve been there, but we haven’t finalized them and today we did that.

“We took advantage of those opportunities in the right moments and that gave us the right momentum to be able to create what we did in the second half. Ultimately, the most important thing is the three points. That’s what we needed today.”