Raúl Ruidíaz bagged his league-leading 11th goal of 2021, as Seattle Sounders FC (9-1-5, 32 points) took down Austin FC (3-7-4, 13 points) by a final score of 1-0. Thursday’s matchup in front of 20,738 marked Seattle’s first-ever visit to Q2 Stadium. The two clubs previously met for the first time in MLS on May 30 at Lumen Field, a scoreless draw between the Rave Green and Major League Soccer’s newest expansion side. With the victory, Seattle remains atop both the Supporters’ Shield and Western Conference standings, two points over New England in the former category and five points ahead of Sporting Kansas City in the West.
After coming on as a second-half substitute, Ruidíaz scored the winner for Seattle in dramatic fashion, giving him sole possession of first place in the 2021 MLS Golden Boot race. In the 67th minute, after pouncing on mis-clearance just inside of midfield, Ruidíaz caught Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver off his line and smashed an arching shot from 40 yards away that soared just over Stuver’s outstretched arms and into the net. The Peruvian now has 53 goals in 78 MLS appearances (including postseason) since joining Sounders FC in the 2018 summer transfer window.
Of note, Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer fielded five teenagers in a starting lineup for the first time in league history. Dating back to 1996, this mark had never been reached previously in a competitive MLS match, with FC Dallas (2019) and the New York / New Jersey MetroStars (twice in 2005) both fielding four players 19 or younger in a starting lineup. Sounders Academy products Reed Baker-Whiting (16 years old) and Obed Vargas (15 years old) both made their first career MLS starts tonight, alongside fellow Academy graduates Danny Leyva (18 years old), Ethan Dobbelaere (18 years old) and Josh Atencio (19 years old), as Schmetzer rotated his squad.
After playing two road matches inside five days, Seattle returns to the Emerald City tonight in preparation for a critical home match on Sunday, July 25. Brian Schmetzer’s side closes its three-match week with a contest versus Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, pitting the top two sides in the Western Conference against one another on the shores of Puget Sound. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 p.m. PT (JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).
• With the victory, Sounders FC remains in first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference with 32 points, five points ahead of Sporting Kansas City. The Rave Green and Sporting face-off on Sunday at Lumen Field on Sunday, July 25. Seattle also maintains the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, two points ahead of New England for the best record in MLS.
• Seattle now moves to 1-1-0 all-time against Austin FC. The Rave Green and the newest MLS expansion side met on May 30 for the first time at Lumen Field, a scoreless draw between the two clubs. Tonight’s match was Seattle’s first-ever visit to Q2 Stadium.
• Raúl Ruidíaz’s second-half winner marked his 11th goal of the season, giving him sole possession of first place in the 2021 MLS Golden Boot race. The Peruvian now has 53 goals in 78 MLS appearances (including postseason) since joining Sounders FC in the 2018 summer transfer window, the most of any MLS player in that timeframe.
• By starting five teenagers tonight in Austin, Seattle Sounders FC sets a new league record. As defined by players 19 and under, no other team in league history has done this. Dallas (2019) and New York / New Jersey (twice in 2005) had previously started four teenagers. Tonight’s teenage starters for the Rave Green were Reed Baker-Whiting (16 years old), Obed Vargas (15), Danny Leyva (18 years old), Ethan Dobbelaere (18 years old) and Josh Atencio (19 years old). Seattle’s starting lineup marked the second-youngest by average age for a game in MLS history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
• Seattle’s previous club record of teenagers to start a match came on May 12 this season, a road win at San Jose, with both Danny Leyva and Ethan Dobbelaere getting the nod.
• Including tonight’s starters, Seattle has now started 10 teenagers all-time in league play. That list includes Josh Atencio, Reed-Baker Whiting, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Ethan Dobbelaere, Danny Levya, Miguel Montaño, Nouhou, Cristian Roldan, Obed Vargas and DeAndre Yedlin. Seven of those players are Sounders FC Academy products, including all five of tonight’s teenage starters.
• Making his First Team debut tonight, Tacoma Defiance midfielder Obed Vargas becomes the third-youngest player in league history to either start or play in a MLS match (15 years and 351 days).
• Also making his first start for Sounders FC, Reed Baker-Whiting is now the sixth-youngest player in MLS history to start a match.
• Dating back to Danny Levya’s First Team debut on June 5, 2019 at Montreal, Sounders FC players now occupy three of the top six positions re: youngest players to play in a regular-season game. Trailing D.C. United’s Freddy Adu (14 years and 306 days) and Vancouver’s Alphonso Davies (15 years and 257 days), the list is rounded out by Sounders FC’s Obed Vargas (15 years and 351 days), LAFC’s Erk Dueñas (15 years and 362 days) and Seattle players Danny Leyva (16 years and 31 days) and Reed Baker-Whiting (16 years and 46 days).
• After being made available via Short-Term Agreement for Sunday’s match in Minnesota and making his professional debut as an 85th-minute substitute, Sam Adeniran got his first MLS start tonight at Q2 Stadium. The 22-year-old Houston native was acquired by Tacoma Defiance in March of this year, following stints in the lower professional divisions of Spain and Germany. He played 54 minutes at Q2 Stadium this evening.
• Making his fifth start of 2021, Sounders FC Academy product Josh Atencio played his first MLS match at centerback this evening. With regular starters Xavier Arreaga (yellow card accumulation) and Nouhou (adductor strain) both unavailable, Atencio deputized well in Seattle’s central defense, playing a full 90 minutes Thursday in Texas.
• A sixth teenager appeared for Sounders FC this evening when 19-year-old Tacoma Defiance defender Alex Villanueva came on as a substitute in second-half stoppage time.
• Adeniran, Vargas and Villanueva – in addition to fellow Tacoma Defiance player Juan Alvarez – were all available tonight due to international callups and a slate injuries, creating Extreme Hardship and paving the way for Short-Term Agreements that allowed them to play in MLS action. This was the third time in as many games that the Rave Green exercised this option, doing so in last Sunday’s match at Minnesota and the July 7 home fixture vs. Houston, as well.
• Spencer Richey received his first start in goal tonight as a Sounder, playing his first minutes since joining Seattle this past offseason from FC Cincinnati. In the absence of injured starter Stefan Frei, Stefan Cleveland went 4-1-4 in goal over the previous nine matches. Sounders FC leads MLS with seven shutouts.
Seattle Sounders FC 1 – Austin FC 0
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Venue: Q2 Stadium
Referee: Alex Chilowicz
Assistants: Cameron Blanchard, Peter Balciunas
Fourth Official: Elton Garcia
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: 76 degrees and sunny
SEA – Raúl Ruidíaz 67’
SEA – Sam Adeniran (caution) 34’*
ATX –* Hector Jimenez (caution) 57’*
ATX –* Cecilio Dominguez (caution) 85’ *
SEA –* Raúl Ruidíaz (caution) 90’+4’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Spencer Richey; Brad Smith (Jimmy Medranda 53’), Yeimar, Abdoulaye Cissoko, Ethan Dobbelaere, Josh Atencio; João Paulo (Kelyn Rowe 54’), Danny Leyva, Reed Baker-Whiting (Alex Villanueva 90’+4’), Obed Vargas (Fredy Montero 77’); Sam Adeniran (Raúl Ruidíaz 54’)
Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland, Andrew Thomas, Juan Alvarez
Total shots: 10
Shots on goal: 3
Austin FC – Brad Stuver; Matt Besler, Hector Jimenez, Julio Cascante, Zan Kolmanic; Tomas Pochettino, Alex Ring, Diego Fagundez; Cecilio Dominguez, Rodney Redes (Jon Gallagher 57’), Kekuta Manneh (Manny Perez 77’)
Substitutes not used: Andrew Tarbell, William Pulisic, Jhohan Romana, Aedan Stanley, Sebastian Berhalter, Freddy Kleeman, Jared Stroud
Total shots: 13
Shots on goal: 3