Raúl Ruidíaz scored a dramatic game-winning goal in second-half stoppage time, giving the Seattle Sounders a 2-1 Decision Day victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
The result, combined with a 2-1 victory by the Colorado Rapids over FC Dallas, mean the Sounders clinched the second seed in the Western Conference and a bye for the Knockout Round of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Neither side managed to strike in the first half, but the visitors found the opener in the 63rd minute, after a shot from Danny Hoesen that deflected off Sounders defender Chad Marshall and into the net to stake San Jose to the 1-0 lead.
Seattle would equalize in the 79th, however, after Cristian Roldan sent in a pinpoint cross that Ruidíaz was able to chest into the net from point blank range to level the contest with 10 minutes to go. The Peruvian then bagged the improbable game-winner at the death, cashing home a through ball feed from Nicolás Lodeiro to send the crowd of 42,617 at CenturyLink into bedlam.
THAT’S A WRAP
The match was Seattle’s final regular season contest of 2018, which saw the Rave Green post a 18-11-5 record and collect 59 points from their 34 matches. The dramatic finish on Sunday made for the ideal sendoff, as Ruidíaz ensured the fans went home happy on a day where the Sounders’ attack did have its share of struggles finding the net until late into the second half.
Raúl Ruidíaz reacts after scoring the match-winning goal against the San Jose Earthquakes / Lindsey Wasson
Roldan came into this season known primarily as a defensive midfielder, but given a chance to play higher up the field with increased frequency this season, the fourth-year midfielder out of the University of Washington has responded. His assist on Ruidiaz’s leveler marked his ninth of the season to go along with four goals in Seattle’s 34 regular season matches.
BYE WEEK IN THE BAG
With a postseason spot already clinched, the biggest storyline coming into Sunday’s match for Seattle was seeding, with any spot between second and fifth a possibility based on the other Decision Day results. Thanks to the Rapids win over FCD, however, Seattle will get to watch and wait for those Knockout Round games, which will pit LAFC against Real Salt Lake and FCD against the Portland Timbers. Leg 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals will take place on the road on Sunday, November 4 with Leg 2 taking place at CenturyLink Field on Thursday, November 8. Kickoff times and opponent are to be determined.
SJ - Chad Marshall (Own Goal) 64'
SEA - Raúl Ruidíaz (Cristian Roldan, Víctor Rodríguez) 79'
SEA - Raúl Ruidíaz (Nicolás Lodeiro, Víctor Rodríguez) 90'+3'
SJ - Eric Calvillo (Unsporting Behavior) 53'
SEA - Raúl Ruidíaz (Delaying the restart of play) 90'+4'