For a 10th straight season, the Seattle Sounders are going to the playoffs.
Víctor Rodríguez scored in the third minute, Handwalla Bwana struck in the 13th and the Sounders survived a second-half tally from Dom Dwyer, bagging a 2-1 victory over Orlando City SC at Orlando City Stadium on Wednesday.
The victory moved Seattle to 16-11-5 and 53 points on the season, officially clinching their spot in this year’s postseason with two matches left in the regular season.
Rodríguez got the Sounders off to the dream start just after kickoff, getting on the end of a feed from right back Kelvin Leerdam and lofting a cheeky chipped finish over Orlando City goalkeeper Adam Grinwis to give Seattle the early 1-0 lead.
Bwana then doubled that advantage just 10 minutes later after rifling a laser shot that deflected off an Orlando defender and into net, pushing the scoreline to the 2-0 advantage Seattle would take into the halftime locker room.
The hosts wouldn’t go quietly, however, as Dwyer finished off a cross from Scott Sutter in the 57th minute to hack the Sounders’ lead to 2-1. But neither side would find the scoresheet again after that and Seattle were able to see out the three-point result.
With the victory, the Sounders punched their ticket to the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs – the 10th straight season the club has qualified since its inaugural MLS campaign of 2009. Now, it’s about seeding as the Sounders have two more games to try and move their way up the Western Conference table, starting with another road fixture against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, Oct. 21 (2 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, Univision-Seattle, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).
RODRÍGUEZ STAYS HOT
Seattle’s Spanish midfielder has been on fire since returning to the lineup from injury, and he continued his strong run of form with Wednesday’s opener. Rodríguez now has five goals and three assists in 17 games in 2018 and three goals in his last four matches overall as he looks to continue shouldering the load on the wing with teammate Harry Shipp sidelined due to a hamstring injury.
Víctor Rodríguez lobs a chip over Orlando City SC goalkeeper Adam Grinwis in the match's opening moments | Jeremy Reper
Seattle were a bit shorthanded for Wednesday’s match, as midfielders Nicolás Lodeiro and Gustav Svensson were each still on international duty. Striker Raúl Ruidíaz was in the 18 but didn’t feature in the contest after playing 90 minutes for Peru in a friendly against the U.S. national team on Tuesday. All three of those faces should be back with the club and ready to go for Sunday’s match in Houston, however, so look for a more full-strength XI as Seattle looks to solidify its postseason positioning.
SEA - Víctor Rodríguez (Kelvin Leerdam) 3'
SEA - Handwalla Bwana (Víctor Rodríguez) 13'
ORL- Dominic Dwyer (Scott Sutter, Chris Mueller) 57'
SEA - Jordy Delem (Unsporting Behavior) 78'
ORL - Carlos Ascues (Dissent) 90'+2'
SEA - Alex Roldan (Unsporting Behavior) 90'+5'