Sebastian Blanco has waited a long time to get back onto the field for the Portland Timbers and got to savor that feeling on Saturday night at Providence Park.
Blanco made his first appearance in nine months for Giovanni Savarese’s side, playing the final 10 minutes of a 2-1 home victory over Sporting KC.
The Argentinian playmaker, who suffered a torn ACL in September 2020 and had to miss the rest of the season after surgery, made his emotional return in front of roughly 20,000 Timbers faithful.
The MVP of the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament, Blanco helped close out an important three points for the Timbers, taking the first step towards re-establishing himself as a key figure for the Western Conference power.
Blanco back. #RCTID pic.twitter.com/pON93GTIM7
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) June 20, 2021
“I have many feelings about being back, it feels great to be on the field,” Blanco said after Saturday’s win. “It was a relief to be back but also finish the match with a win against a very good team. I was a bit tired near the end so I think I’m going to need time to get used to the style of play.
“It was very emotional when I was coming onto the field,” Blanco said. “I worked very hard to get back to playing and now I can look forward to the moments ahead and the opportunities.”
The 33-year-old attacking midfielder helped the Timbers win the MLS is Back Tournament last summer, scoring three goals and adding five assists in seven combined appearances. Blanco’s production took a dip slightly after the tournament, before suffering his serious knee injury against rivals Seattle Sounders in September.
The Timbers are fifth in the Western Conference with a 4-4 record and 12 points earned out of a possible 24, but will be expected to start pushing for a higher position in the table after what was an emotional return for Blanco.
“I don’t have words to [describe] the people,” Blanco said when asked how the crowd made him feel. “I’m only, I’m thankful. A lot. Too much love. The support to come back, be back to the field in our home, with our people at 80 percent capacity, winning the game — it’s too much for nine months.”
“We’ve been dealing with a lot when it has come to injuries and tonight was a good night for us where we had some key guys return,” Savarese said post match. “Getting Blanco and [Diego] Chara back was important and I think they both brought energy to the field. We’re going to need more from them and the whole team if we want to achieve the goals we have put in front of us.”
Blanco and the Timbers return to action on Wednesday, with a mid-week road trip to face the Houston Dynamo, before returning home to play host to Minnesota United.