Raúl Ruidíaz golazo
We couldn’t start anywhere else. The Sounders’ Peruvian marksman took the MLS Golden Boot lead with his 11th goal of the season in epic fashion, unleashing a half-volley from 41 yards out that sailed over Brad Stuver’s head in the 67th minute for the match-winner. After beginning the match on the bench for rest and rotation midweek, Ruidíaz came on as a second-half substitute and needed just 14 minutes to stun Q2 Stadium with an MLS Goal of the Year candidate.
Played the kids
More youth history
Vargas, who isn’t even a First Team contracted player and was only called up due to MLS’ Extreme Hardship rule, became the third-youngest player to appear in an MLS match all time. Only Freddy Adu and Alphonso Davies were younger. Along with Leyva and Baker-Whiting, three of the six youngest players to ever suit up in MLS were on the field for Seattle at the same time.
Second-youngest lineup ever
The Sounders also started the second-youngest starting lineup in MLS history. Only the 2004 MetroStars began a match with a younger average age than Seattle did in Austin.
After making a one-minute MLS debut in May, Baker-Whiting finally got his opportunity to show why the club is so high on the 16-year-old Seattle native. Playing in an advanced midfield position, he nearly bagged his first MLS goal as well as contributed two key passes, which was tied with Dobbelaere for first on the team.
Samuel Adeniran, Juan Alvarez and Alex Villanueva joined Vargas as members of the Tacoma Defiance on the matchday roster, with Adeniran earning his first MLS start at forward. Alvarez did not feature, but Villanueva, 19, came on for a late cameo to earn his first MLS minutes as well.
Atencio shines out of position
Coming through the Sounders Academy and his time with Tacoma Defiance, Atencio was deployed as a center back, and a formidable one at that. Although since signing with the First Team a year ago, he had been playing in defensive midfield. On Thursday, Schmetzer reverted Atencio to CB out of necessity with Shane O’Neill and Nouhou injured and Xavier Arreaga suspended because of yellow-card accumulation. All Atencio did was help lead the Sounders to a clean sheet with a team-high four interceptions, as well as five recoveries, three clearances and two tackles.
Yeimar the boss
Part of Atencio’s success came from having the presence of Yeimar in the middle of the Sounders’ center back trio. The hulking Colombian veteran is having an MLS Best XI-caliber season and showed why again on Thursday. He led the team in clearances with eight and blocks with two, as well as contributed three recoveries, two interceptions and a tackle.
Spencer Richey debuts for hometown club
Goalkeeper and Seattle native Richey made his club debut on Thursday after signing with the Sounders this past offseason. With normal No. 1 Stefan Frei injured and backup Stefan Cleveland rotated for rest, Richey stepped in and led Seattle to its seventh clean sheet of the year. Richey made three saves in the victory, including a point-blank stop on an Alex Ring header in the second half.
Supporters’ Shield lead
After a New England Revolution win on Wednesday temporarily vaulted them to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings, the Sounders reclaimed their league-leading status and head into the weekend with a two-point lead over the Revs. Seattle also owns a five-point lead in the West over Sporting Kansas City, who come to Lumen Field on Sunday night (6 p.m. PT; JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).