Straight Ahead Raul Ruidiaz Cover

The Seattle Sounders continue to prepare for Round One of the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs against Real Salt Lake (7:30 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) at Lumen Field on November 23. The Rave Green have qualified for 13 consecutive postseasons, reaching MLS Cup in four of the last five years. For the Sounders, there is only one path forward: straight ahead.

In advance of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, we're breaking down the key players to watch. Here's everything you need to know about Raúl Ruidíaz.


Ruidíaz is the ultimate striker’s striker, a No. 9 in its truest form. He is arguably the purest goalscorer in MLS and is racing up the Sounders’ all-time goals list with 50 in just 79 matches. He has a great feel for the game and where the ball is likely to pop up, and he also has a penchant for the spectacular. Whether he’s combining with Fredy Montero and Will Bruin or leading the line himself, the Sounders often rely on him to conjure some magic, something he’s done with aplomb since arriving in summer 2018.


Ruidíaz’s third full season in Seattle was his best yet. He finished tied for third in the MLS Golden Boot race with 17 despite missing a quarter of the season due to injury and international duty. He was also fourth in the league in Expected Goals, which underlies just how often he created bona fide scoring chances. He was an MLS All-Star and has a legitimate shout to earn his second consecutive MLS Best XI honor. His defensive work rate was also stellar despite it not showing up in the box score, as he did much of the dirty work up front on the league’s best defense.


Former Sounders center back Chad Marshall said it best on Twitter following Seattle's historic 1-0 win away to Austin FC on July 22.


In a year filled with many of them, Ruidíaz’s long-distance, match-winning golazo at Austin FC takes the cake.


Ruidíaz is unequivocally the greatest postseason goalscorer in league history — and he’s done it in three years. He has a blistering nine goals and six assists in 10 career matches, including capping an MLS Cup win in 2019. He scored twice in four games last year, including a 90th-minute equalizer in the Western Conference Championship. Ruidíaz missed Decision Day with a left hamstring strain, but it appears likely he’ll be good to go when the Sounders kick off their quest for their fifth MLS Cup appearance in six years on Tuesday against Real Salt Lake (7:30 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).

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