PORTLAND, Ore. – “It’s amazing.”
Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco, fresh from scoring the game-winning goal in Portland’s important 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in the first leg of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals, was happy not only for his goal, but also to be able to share the moment after the match with his one-year old daughter, Felicitas.
Blanco, who needed teammate Diego Chara to temporarily hold Felicitas for him while he lifted his freshly cut log slab aloft in front of the Timbers Army after the match, was all smiles when asked about celebration.
“My family, my wife and my daughter are with me always,” he said. “For me, it’s very important. It’s my spirit for me.”
Timbers players have often been joined by their children on the pitch following the match and it’s a tradition that has become an important one for Blanco.
“I play for [my family] and the [fans] of course, but when we finish the game and we can celebrate together, for me, it’s amazing.”
While work remains for Portland in Thursday’s second leg at CenturyLink Field (7:30pm PT, FS1 | Match presented by Carls Jr.), the Timbers’ win put themselves in strong position. Coming off a busy series of games that included the team’s regular-season finale against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a Knockout Round win over FC Dallas and then Sunday’s first leg result, Blanco and the team know there is still work to be done to advance.
“I feel very happy, but it was the team’s spirit that helped us achieve the victory,” he said. “Today we played a derby at home, in front of our people and that pushes you to overcome adversity. We come from a long week after playing against Dallas. We felt a little tired today, but we played with our heart.”
“We won the first game and this is important,” Blanco added. “Now we need to rest and play the next game in Seattle very hard.”