Seattle Sounders forward Raúl Ruidíaz is no stranger to Mexican opposition. The former two-time Liga MX goalscoring king recorded 40 goals in two years with Morelia and was more than happy to punish his former league again with a penalty kick goal in the Sounders’ 3-0 Leagues Cup win over Tigres UANL on Tuesday night at Lumen Field.

“My time in Mexico brings some experience, but the point is that we all worked during the week as a team, all working together,” Ruidíaz said. “We wanted to make sure that the lines were organized. It was a hard match, but everything turned out well and I’m very happy with the result.”

It wasn’t just that Ruidíaz scored from the spot, his 12th goal in all competitions for Seattle this season. It was how he did it. The Peruvian coolly stepped up and chipped a cheeky Panenka past Miguel Ortega to give the Sounders an early 1-0 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

“During the week, I practice [taking penalties] this way,” he said. “It’s not a tease, I just do what I practice, and it resulted in a beautiful goal.”

Ruidíaz is tied atop the MLS Golden Boot standings with 11 league tallies halfway through the season. He’s been one of the Sounders’ most consistently reliable players as they’ve battled through myriad injuries and international call-ups.

Seattle’s No. 9 has carried much of the load himself, but his influence and statistics look to get even better especially now that captain and playmaker Nicolás Lodeiro is back.

“I try to give my best to support the team and run and be in the right position to be able to finish opportunities,” said Ruidíaz. “There’s an opportunity to refine the final touch and the scoring, but ultimately, it’s all about supporting my teammates, helping the team get the win and always giving my maximum.”

The Sounders will take on the winner of Orlando City SC and Santos Laguna in the Leagues Cup Semifinals in mid-September, but Seattle first returns to MLS action on Sunday with a massive road clash at the rival Portland Timbers (7 p.m. PT; FS1, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM). Ruidíaz & Co. are hoping that Tuesday’s performance against one of the best teams in the Americas will help return them to the form that has kept them at or near the Supporters’ Shield lead all year.

“It was a hard match, but we came with the mentality to win,” said Ruidíaz. “I think that the lines were really well-organized, and this gives us confidence for what’s about to come.”



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