SEAvCLT Ruidiaz Sider Cover

For the first 72 minutes of the Seattle Sounders’ 2-1 win over Charlotte FC at Lumen Field on Sunday, it looked as though the 2022 MLS expansion side was destined to win its first away match. Seattle conceded against the run of play in the first half and frustratingly couldn’t find a breakthrough.

Then Jordan Morris headed home his third goal of the season to equalize, and with Raúl Ruidíaz on the pitch, it was only a matter of time before the Sounders found a way to steal all three points. In the 80th minute, he did just that, pulling out a golazo from his bag of tricks in ways only he can.

“It’s what he does best,” said Sounders defender Alex Roldan of Ruidíaz. “He puts the ball in the back of the net in places that you don’t think are even possible. With his technique and his form, nine out of 10 times if anyone else tries to do that it doesn’t go in.”

The Peruvian Designated Player has scored nothing but massive goals in his four years with the club. From the Concacaf Champions League Final to MLS Cup to rivalry matches in Portland and Vancouver, Ruidíaz lives for the big occasion and thrives in regularly doing the types of actions that belie belief.

“[The players] never quit, they never stop believing they can win games, and then it’s handy to have a player like Raúl who can score goals like that,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “That was an unbelievable [goal].”

The Sounders will take the win and head into a two-week FIFA international break ready to regroup. Sunday’s match was the first of five consecutive home matches and an opportunity to lay a stake in the ground over the next month.

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“It was not a must-win game, but kind of a must-win game if we wanted to really consider ourselves contenders for playoff positioning and going deep in the playoffs,” said Schmetzer. “We have to make a statement that we’re back and we’re here at home and we’re going to start collecting points. It was a pretty important game for them mentally.”

Seattle will resume MLS play on June 14 against the Vancouver Whitecaps (7:30 p.m. PT; FOX 13+, Prime Video, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS) with a chance to keep climbing the Western Conference table. And the team will know, too, that a match is always within reach as long as Ruidíaz is on the pitch.

“He’s a talented player and shows up in big moments,” said Roldan, “and we needed that today.”

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