The Portland Timers have been looking for strong wing play for some time. They believe they have just found it in the form of another experienced Argentine.
The Timbers announced on Thursday that they have signed 28-year-old attacker Sebastian Blanco as a Designated Player. Blanco joins the club via a transfer from Argentine first division side San Lorenzo and arrives in Portland after weeks of rumors regarding his future.
In order to sign the winger, the Timbers traded $75,000 in General Allocation Money to the Seattle Sounders in exchange for his Right of First Refusal.
“Sebastian Blanco is a talented player we have been aware of and tracked for quite some time,” said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers, in a club-issued statement. “To say the process of acquiring him was complex is an understatement, and we are delighted to confirm the transfer and that he wanted Portland to be his new home.”
Blanco's move to the Timbers will not mark his first trip abroad. Before suiting up for San Lorenzo in 2015, the versatile Argentine, who can play centrally or out wide, was a member of West Bromwich Albion in England and FC Metalist Kharkiv in Ukraine. The only other club he has ever played for is Lanus, in his native country.
Blanco, who has been capped twice by Argentina, appeared in 55 regular-season games for San Lorenzo. He scored nine goals in those matches. This season, he had three tallies and six assists in 11 appearances.
He joins a Timbers team that is looking to get back to the MLS postseason after missing out in 2016. Blanco will be tasked with helping bolster a Portland attack that already includes the talented likes of compatriot Diego Valeri, striker Fanendo Adi, and US national team player Darlington Nagbe.
"An attacking player that will increase our production from wide positions was a top priority this offseason, and we're very pleased to sign a difference-maker like Sebastian Blanco,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter in the same statement. “He is a technical, two-footed player that will bring quality service and final passing, and he has produced goals playing either wing. His work rate on both sides of the ball was also very important.
"We project Blanco to play on the right side, but he is also effective on the left or at the No. 10 [spot], which gives us tactical flexibility if need be."