TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Re-signing
The deal was first reported by MLSsoccer.com.
“I’m coming home, Portland," Blanco, previously a free agent, said in a release. "This has been my home for the past five years, and my family and I are extremely excited to be back. I’m hungry to win, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than this club with my teammates. I believe in my team and the leadership of this club, and I can’t wait to achieve great things together.”
Blanco, who turns 34 in March, can play centrally and on the wing. The Argentine first joined Portland in 2017 from San Lorenzo and has 33 goals and 42 assists across 127 regular-season appearances.
“We are delighted to welcome back Sebastian, his wife Natali and their two children. We appreciate his desire to return to this club and the personal sacrifices he made for this to happen. His leadership, passion and winning mentality are qualities that are vital to our locker room and directly influence the Club’s success,” GM and president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson said in a release. “We are looking forward to seeing his abilities showcased with the Timbers for several more years.”
ORIGINAL (Feb. 4) – Sebastian Blanco is coming home after a dance with free agency.
The Portland Timbers and Blanco have agreed to a two-year contract, sources confirm to MLSsoccer.com. He will soon arrive in Portland to finalize and sign the agreement. CL Merlo first reported an agreement had been reached, while ESPN's Jeff Carlisle noted an agreement was close a few days ago.
A source adds the deal will be TAM-level rather than as a Designated Player, giving Portland flexibility at the top of their roster with a third DP spot alongside striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda and midfielder Yimmi Chara. The Timbers can decide how to designate him on their roster over the next three weeks ahead of roster compliance day, just before MLS is Back weekend Feb. 26-27.
Another MLS team had a multi-year deal on the table in attempts to sign Blanco, but the Argentine midfielder agreed to stay in Portland. Negotiations with the Timbers have been prolonged after an agreement in December was thrown off the rails by concerns in his medical examination.
Blanco, 33, has been with the Timbers since 2017 and has 33 goals and 42 assists across 127 regular-season appearances. He has helped lead Portland to MLS Cup twice, in 2018 and 2021. Last season he returned from a torn ACL to great effect, accruing seven goals and seven assists in just 1,182 minutes.
Prior to his injury in 2020, Blanco was an MLS MVP candidate and led Portland to the MLS is Back Tournament title.
Blanco is revered around Providence Park, both internally and as a fan favorite. Portland have already said goodbye to club legend Diego Valeri, who returned to his boyhood club Lanus earlier this offseason via transfer. Blanco and Valeri also played together at Lanus before reuniting in Portland.
The Timbers recently acquired rising Argentine midfielder David Ayala from Estudiantes on a U22 Initiative deal as the club reloads for 2022 after falling in penalty kicks in MLS Cup to New York City FC. Ayala joins fellow U22 midfielder Santiago Moreno, who arrived last summer from América de Cali.
Portland open their season Feb. 26 against reigning Supporters' Shield winners New England Revolution.