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Portland Timbers’ Sebastian Blanco: “I enjoy it a lot, to play against LAFC”

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Midfielder talks rivalries and more in interview.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal-Los Angeles FC vs Portland Timbers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Blanco is known for his skill, and for getting under the skin of his opponents at times.

It’s a sensation Los Angeles Football Club are familiar with, as the Portland Timbers midfielder has proven to be an agitator in his games against LAFC the last two seasons.

While Blanco acknowledges the Timbers’ rivalry with the Seattle Sounders remains firmly No. 1 in his book, he acknowledges what many LAFC partisans argue, that a rivalry is brewing with the Timbers.

“I think [the budding rivalry with LAFC] is good, because we love it,” Blanco told me during a recent exclusive interview. “We love to play those games, because both LA [teams] are important for the league. We feel good staying in that position. I think they know playing against Portland is very hard, and I enjoy it a lot, to play against LAFC and LA Galaxy, because both teams are very, very good and very strong. So it’s good we have more rivalries with more teams.”

Blanco admits he looks up the rivalry games when the schedule comes out each year.

“Every year when we start the season I look to see when we play the rivalry games,” he said. “Because it’s a special day, a special week. I don’t need extra motivation to play these games. But we need to know, what we play in these games, is different than the others. We wait for the day for the derbies, it’s the most important games.”

The Argentine, who said he was interested in potentially managing in MLS after his playing career ends, is aiming for several personal goals in addition to beating out LAFC for a title.

“I want a better year than 2018, of course. If it’s a number we’re talking, more than 10 goals and 10 assists. And I need to be important for the team, for the club, and every year to be a leader for them.”

Timbers fans will be fired up for that, but LAFC fans will likely hope to stymie Blanco in those aims, at least in head-to-head clashes.

More news for your Thursday:

  • New LAFC series: Behind the Crest — This behind-the-scenes show features plenty of preseason goodness in the debut episode. If you felt like things had been quiet so far, this might help quench the thirst.
  • Sinclair breaks all-time international scoring record: Christine Sinclear is the top-scoring player in international soccer history, after she hit a brace in Canada’s commanding win over St. Kitts & Nevis in Concacaf Women’s Olympic qualifying on Wednesday. She now has 185 goals, passing USWNT star Abby Wambach, the most goals for any player in history, women’s or men’s.
  • Winning the offseason? Andrew Wiebe includes LAFC among the “winners” in MLS so far this offseason, for combining signings that can appreciate value over time with some that can possibly help them win now. Read it over at MLSsoccer.com.
  • The Carli Lloyd dilemma: Kim McCauley had a terrific column at SB Nation on the conundrum of Carli Lloyd. The USWNT star demands constant playing time, even though Father Time at times is clearly catching up to her. But she can also pull a moment of brilliance from a subpar game, too. Definitely worth a read.

Today’s question: Do you appreciate Sebastian Blanco’s fiery nature during games against LAFC or would you rather he just focus on the game at hand, no antics? Let’s chat about that and anything else you like in the comments!