The Seattle Sounders defeated Liga MX’s Santos Laguna 1-0 in the Leagues Cup Semifinals on Tuesday night at Lumen Field behind a stoppage-time goal from Raúl Ruidíaz.
The match was deadlocked until the 93rd minute when new signing Léo Chú sprung Ruidíaz on a breakaway. Ruidíaz’s initial shot was saved by goalkeeper Gibrán Lajud, but Ruidíaz slotted home the rebound to send the Sounders to the final. The goal was the Peruvian marksman’s second in as many Leagues Cup matches after scoring on a penalty in the Sounders’ 3-0 quarterfinals win over Tigres.
The two teams played a fairly open first half, but neither side really tested their opponents’ goalkeepers. Ruidíaz had the best chance in the opening 45 minutes when he was just a half-step behind a through ball that was whipped into the box from Cristian Roldan.
Santos nearly took the lead in the 65th minute when Diego Valdés hit a free kick from 25 yards off the post and ricocheted away from danger.
The Sounders were without captain Nicolás Lodeiro and defender Nouhou, each of whom started over the weekend but were kept off the roster as a precautionary measure, but saw the return of Ruidíaz and defender Xavier Arreaga from international duty.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei made his second straight start after recovering from a lengthy injury absence and posted his second consecutive clean sheet.
Trophy on the line
The Sounders will head to Las Vegas next Wednesday (7 p.m. PT; ESPN) to take on either Liga MX’s Pumas or Léon at Allegiant Stadium. The two Mexican teams will meet this Wednesday night in Houston.
What a way to mark your debut. The 21-year-old Brazilian came on in the 82nd minute and made his presence felt. Chú won’t get credit for an assist on Ruidíaz’s goal, but it was his seeing-eye pass into space that set up the match-winner.
Back to MLS play
Following the high of Tuesday night, the Sounders will now turn their attention to their third match in eight days when they visit Real Salt Lake on Saturday (6:30 p.m. PT; JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM) for the first contest in a three-game road swing.