The Portland Timbers have re-signed midfielder Sebastian Blanco to a Designated Player deal through the 2023 season, the club announced today.
Sebastián Blanco has signed a new contract as a Designated Player through the 2023 season.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) February 11, 2022
MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert first reported the news on Feb. 8th.
Sebastian Blanco's return to the Portland Timbers should be finalized and official this week, per sources.
Blanco, 33, will be a DP but is under the max-TAM charge, meaning club can use all three U22 Initiative slots. They can also buy him down to open a DP spot in the future. https://t.co/awmHs5o80w
— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) February 8, 2022
Last week, Bogert reported that Blanco’s deal would be in the Targeted Allocation Money range, giving Portland an open DP spot. But Blanco will stay a DP after all.
Sources: Portland Timbers and Sebastian Blanco have agreed on a new two-year deal. Will soon finalize/sign. @CLMerlo 1st reported.
Blanco's deal will be in the TAM-range, giving the Timbers DP flexibility. He had a two-year offer from another MLS club too https://t.co/WQ5iTPgdyS
— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) February 4, 2022
This followed reports of Blanco’s re-signing from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle the day before.
Hearing from sources that Sebastian Blanco is close to finalizing a deal to return to the Portland Timbers. Expect it to be done by end of the week. #RCTID
— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) February 2, 2022
Blanco, 33, has 42 goals and 38 assists in 148 career matches for Portland in all competitions. He finished 2021 with 0.53 goals per 90 minutes (96th percentile among MLS attacking mids), 0.46 assists/90 (98th percentile), and 0.92 goal-creating actions/90 (99th percentile) after coming off a torn ACL in 2020.
After joining Portland as a Designated Player in 2017, Blanco immediately helped the Timbers to a first-place finish in the Western Conference. Portland finished as MLS Cup runners-up in 2018 and have made the MLS Cup Playoffs during each of Blanco’s five seasons.
Blanco being a DP under the maximum budget charge ($1,612,500) allows Portland to keep all three under-22 spots. The Timbers already have two under-22 signings on their roster (Santiago Moreno and David Ayala).
Had Portland used their third DP slot on a player 23 or older who makes more than the max, they would only get one U-22 spot.
For reference, there are only 34 players in MLS who made more than the $1.625 million max in guaranteed compensation last year.
The re-signing of Blanco was a top priority for the club this offseason, especially after the departure of club legend and fellow Argentine Diego Valeri to Lanús. Blanco was linked to Boca Juniors after rumors went back and forth about his future in Portland.