CCL Player Spotlight Cover Ruidiaz

Seattle Sounders forward Raúl Ruidíaz is used to dominating Liga MX competition. When the Rave Green signed him in summer 2018, he joined from Mexican club Morelia where was a two-time Golden Boot winner and one of the most productive forwards in the region.

Fast forward nearly four years later, and Ruidíaz has yet another shot to sink Mexican opposition again when the Sounders host Pumas UNAM on Wednesday (7:06 p.m. PT; FS1, TUDN, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS) in Leg Two of the Concacaf Champions League Final.

“He’s fierce,” Sounders FC Senior VP of Soccer & Sporting Director Craig Waibel said of Ruidíaz. “His ability to finish inside the box is second to none in our league, but he’s lethal from outside the box [because] he strikes the ball so clean.”

The 31-year-old Peruvian has recorded double digits in goals in each of his four MLS regular seasons and is a two-time reigning MLS Best XI selection. He is the ultimate goalscorer’s goalscorer, a fox-in-the-box No. 9 whose spatial understanding, quick movement and innate finishing ability make him nearly impossible to guard.

GOAL: Raúl Ruidíaz puts the Sounders ahead with his first goal of the season

“Assassin. Cold-blooded. Give me some Ruidíaz every single time in a big game. He delivers. Ruthless.”

The above was ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman in a tweet after Ruidíaz equalized against Minnesota United in the 90th minute of the 2020 Western Conference Championship, three minutes before Gustav Svensson completed the miraculous comeback and sent the Sounders back to MLS Cup.

What Twellman wrote is true: some of the most talented players in the world aren’t necessarily at their best when the lights are brightest. Yet, for some, like Ruidíaz, they reach a new gear. There’s a reason why no one has a better scoring record than Ruidíaz in MLS postseason play, or why he’s scored two crucial goals in four career matches against Liga MX opponents as a Sounder.

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Seattle will need the very best of Ruidíaz on Wednesday if they hope to accomplish an MLS first by winning CCL, and the spotlight will certainly be on him as more than 61,000 fans are expected.

“He’s a hunter the way he moves and creates space for himself,” added Waibel. “The guy is an absolute survivor. He just refuses to go away.”

The Sounders are in a great position to finally push MLS over the hump after coming back to Lumen Field with a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Mexico City last week. A win would also mark a second major trophy in Ruidíaz’s tenure in Seattle and further cement his legacy as one of the best and most accomplished players to ever don the Rave Green.

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