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Timbers’ Blanco praises budding rivalry with LA Galaxy

Midfielder talks about rivalries in interview.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Los Angeles Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Blanco gets up for rivalry matches.

The Portland Timbers midfielder has gained a reputation for combining skill and agitating opponents, an attribute that tends to come out in full force during rivalries.

During a recent exclusive interview, I asked Blanco, who told me the Timbers’ storied rivalry against the Seattle Sounders was the “most important and strong rivalry in MLS,” that he believes the Timbers are indeed building an interesting rivalry with the LA Galaxy as well.

“I think [the budding rivalry with the Galaxy] is good, because we love it,” Blanco said. “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.”

Last year, the Galaxy and Timbers split the regular season series, LA winning 2-1 at home and Portland winning 4-0 at Providence Park, but Portland had the overall edge, winning 4-0 at home again in the U.S. Open Cup. In addition to the play itself, contested calls and cards awarded have left both teams to feel hard done by at times in recent years, and there seems to be a genuine rivalry blossoming between LA and Portland.

Blanco admits he takes special delight in anticipating rivalry games.

“Every year when we start the season I look to see when we play the rivalry games. 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.”

Blanco, a native of Argentina, was asked if he and his South American teammates help the rest of the Timbers squad understand the passion behind derbies, and he said he does.

“I think we, the South American players, we need to manage the emotions because we play with intensity,” he said. “But we need to talk to [our teammates] to show what we need to play those games, what’s important and what intensity we need to play. It’s different than other games. Of course, they ask us about the Argentina derbies, and we’ve been happy to show and to teach them about that.”

With two compatriots coaching MLS teams at present, in Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Matias Almeyda, Blanco says he’s working on his coaching badges and is interested in potentially managing in MLS in the future: “Why not?”

More news for your Thursday:

  • About the Jordy de Wijs rumor: Without adding context on Twitter (sometimes very hard to do), LA Times’ writer Kevin Baxter poured cold water on the rumor linking the Galaxy to Dutch defender Jordy de Wijs.
  • As we noted on Wednesday, the move is plausible but one must have skepticism with Galaxy rumors since they are one of the best-known MLS teams and get linked to tons of outright false rumors. At any rate, Baxter’s skepticism is noted, this rumor may go nowhere.
  • Sinclair is all-time goal leader: Christine Sinclair broke the global all-time international scoring record in Canada’s commanding win over St. Kitts & Nevis Wednesday in Concacaf Women’s Olympic qualifying. Sinclair’s decisive goal was 185 in her international career, beating out Abby Wambach and marking the most by any soccer player in history, male or female. Congrats, Christine.
  • Galaxy winning the offseason? Andrew Wiebe puts the Galaxy among his five “winners” in MLS so far this offseason, much on the back of the Chicharito move. Find that over at MLSsoccer.com.

Today’s question: Considering Sebastian Blanco lines up on the other side of the field from the Galaxy, are you a hater of his antics in heated matches or respectful he’s willing to do what it takes to win? Let’s chat about it (or whatever strikes your fancy) in the comments below!