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Portland midfielder Blanco named MLS tourney’s top player


Miami (AFP) – Argentine midfielder Sebastian Blanco, who helped the Portland Timbers capture the title, was named on Thursday as the Major League Soccer is Back Player of the Tournament.

The 32-year-old playmaker scored three goals and assisted on five others in the tournament for the Timbers, who defeated Orlando City 2-1 in Tuesday’s final.

Blanco won 40.86% of the total voting, 75% from a media panel and 25% from fans ballots, to 37.54% support for Orlando’s Nani. Blanco led the media voting while Nani topped fan votes. Los Angeles FC’s Diego Rossi was third with Philadelphia’s Andre Blake fourth.

Blanco scored the game-winning goal in Portland’s 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on July 13, converted a penalty kick in a winning shootout over Cincinnati in a round of 16 knockout match, scored in a 3-1 quarter-final victory over New York City FC and added another match-winner in a 2-1 triumph over Philadelphia in the semi-finals.

In more than three seasons with the Timbers, Blanco has scored 25 goals and set up 33 others.

MLS staged the event, played without spectators in a bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as a return from a COVID-19 shutdown last March after only two weeks of the regular season.

The league resumed regular-season matches Wednesday with hopes of crowning a playoff champion in December.

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