PORTLAND, Ore. – Major League Soccer today announced Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco as the MLS is Back Player of the Tournament presented by adidas.
Blanco, 32, tallied three goals and tied for a tournament-leading five assists in helping the Timbers claim the MLS is Back Tournament title and a berth in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. The Buenos Aires, Argentina, native finished tied for a tournament-high two game-winning goals, was one of 11 players to have played in every match (seven) and was the only player with three or more goals and five or more assists in the competition. Notably, his six consecutive matches with a goal or an assist during the tournament was the longest streak of his Portland career.
“I feel very happy about this achievement, but what makes me happier is that we were able to win the title,” said Blanco. “Everyone who knows me knows that I leave my heart in every match and that for me the team’s achievements overcome the individual ones. I receive this award at a very important moment in my career.”
Blanco kicked off the tournament with an assist and the game-winning goal in Portland’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy on July 13. Days later, Blanco contributed an assist in the Timbers’ 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on July 18. Blanco registered yet another assist on July 23 in a 2-2 draw against Los Angeles FC to secure the top spot in Group F.
The Argentine continued his strong play in the MLS is Back Tournament Knockout Stage presented by Audi when he registered an assist and converted a penalty kick in a 1(4) - 1(2) shootout victory over FC Cincinnati on July 28 in the Round of 16. Portland was powered to a 3-1 win against New York City FC in the MLS is Back Tournament Quarterfinals with a Blanco goal and another assist. Blanco then scored the game-winning goal in Portland’s 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union on August 5. In the MLS is Back Tournament Final presented by Wells Fargo, Blanco started and played 89 minutes in the 2-1 win over Orlando City SC on Aug. 11.
Of Blanco’s eight combined goals and assists, one goal and three assists came in the MLS is Back Tournament Group Stage presented by Heineken and count toward the regular season. Blanco’s three assists are tied for fifth in the 2020 MLS regular season entering return to play in home markets. The Timbers will continue regular-season play against Cascadia-rival Seattle Sounders FC at Providence Park on Sunday, Aug. 23; kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (Pacific) on FS1.
Blanco joined the Timbers as a Designated Player prior to the 2017 season, helping the club to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in each of his three campaigns, including an appearance in the 2018 MLS Cup. Across his three-plus years with Portland, Blanco has totaled 25 goals and 33 assists in regular-season play, reaching double-digits with 11 assists in each of the past two seasons. Since the start of the 2017 MLS campaign, Blanco ranks second amongst all players in the league in chances created from open play (198), sixth in assists (33), sixth in dribbles attempted (342), tied for 15th in games played (99) and tied for 22nd in goals scored (25) during regular-season play.
The MLS is Back Player of the Tournament presented by adidas award was voted on by media (weighted 75% of vote) and fans (weighted 25% of vote). Below is a breakdown of the voting results:
|Player of the Tournament||Media %||Fan %||Final %|
|Sebastián Blanco (POR)||49.61%||14.64%||40.86%|
|Diego Rossi (LAFC)||11.81%||30.16%||16.40%|