Player Features

Seattle natives Paul Rothrock, Jackson Ragen propel Sounders to gritty road draw at Houston Dynamo

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The Seattle Sounders rallied from a 2-0 deficit to earn a point in a 2-2 road draw at the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday behind second-half goals from two of the unlikeliest of sources.

Midfielder Paul Rothrock opened the scoring in the 57th minute. The Seattle native just tallied his first goal of the season four days prior and had only scored one other time in his MLS career, coincidentally last season at Houston.

Fellow Seattle native Jackson Ragen equalized six minutes after Rothrock. It was the 25-year-old center back’s first MLS goal in over 70 appearances.

To find the last time Rothrock and Ragen each scored in the same match, one would have to go back seven years to July 2017. It was a game that, when prompted, Rothrock recalled instantly with a near-photographic memory.

Under the direction of current Director of Development Wade Webber, the Sounders’ U-18s defeated local rival Crossfire Premier 3-2 in extra time to advance to the USSDA national semifinals. Rothrock scored Seattle’s second goal before he crossed in a ball for Ragen on a set piece that Ragen headed home in the 111th minute.

Rothrock and Ragen have been on a shared journey that began with Seattle rec soccer and matriculated into First Team contracts, and it’s an experience that neither is taking for granted.

“I’m trying to take things game-by-game right now,” said Rothrock. “I know that nothing is going to be given to me. That feeling of scoring a goal and getting wins with the team, I’m chasing that feeling. These are things I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid, and I don’t know how many opportunities I’m going to get [depending on] how things pan out. I’m just trying to take each opportunity that I can.”

Ragen has consistently been one of the best passing center backs in MLS since he debuted in 2022 and his defensive prowess helped him supplant Xavier Arreaga for a starting role alongside Yeimar. The one missing piece to his repertoire was the ability to contribute in attack.

“Scoring is something that I really want to add to my game, at least a couple goals a year because that will make a big difference,” said Ragen. “Hopefully this will give me some confidence on set pieces to keep scoring goals because I can be an aerial threat.”

In a league and a sport where margins can be incredible thin, the Sounders have a huge opportunity approaching with a three-match homestand against teams beneath the playoff line. Seattle will start with FC Dallas on Saturday (7:30 p.m. PT; MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) before welcoming the Chicago Fire and the New England Revolution, the latter of whom is last in the Eastern Conference and has the third-fewest points in MLS.

The Sounders are looking to build upon last weekend’s historic 2-0 triumph over Minnesota United in the 50th Anniversary match and will try and ride Rothrock and Ragen’s success into another massive result.

“We can’t get too high on ourselves,” said Rothrock. “Let’s see if we can pull out seven points in a three-game week.”

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