SEATTLE — This is why Seattle brought Raul Ruidiaz to town in 2018. For all the qualities soccer teams value in their players, one quality trumps all: the ability to score goals. Time and time again, Ruidiaz finds the back of the net for the Sounders.
Twice, he found the back of the net in Seattle’s Concacaf Champions League Final against Mexican side Pumas UNAM. Twice, he sent the sellout crowd — the largest crowd in CCL tournament history — into a frenzy. Twice, he showed why he’s one of the most dangerous goal scorers in North America.
The first came just before halftime, on a ball crossed into the box. Xavier Arreaga held the defender off his back and flicked a pass to an unmarked Ruidiaz, who fired a shot toward goal. It took a deflection off a defender and bounced into the back of the net.
The second came in the 80th minute on a perfect team goal, Jordan Morris streaking down the sideline, passing to Nicolas Lodeiro who redirected the ball to a waiting Ruidiaz. He made no mistake, burying the effort. Lodeiro added a third goal for good measure to erase any doubt, following up a Jordan Morris shot attempt that bounced off the post.
It sealed a 3-0 win and the Concacaf Champions League title for Seattle, which made history, becoming the first MLS team to win the tournament in its current format. Seattle played to a draw in the first leg in Mexico City a week earlier, giving Seattle a final 5-2 advantage on aggregate scoring.
Seattle had to weather a storm in the first half after a pair of key players left the game with injuries. Left back Nouhou Tolo was subbed out in the 11th minute with a right quad injury and midfielder Joao Paulo was subbed out in the 29th minute with a right knee injury, putting Kelyn Rowe and Obed Vargas into action early. Seattle seemed out of sorts midway through the first half after the injuries, but kept Pumas off the scoresheet before re-discovering a rhythm and breaking through with the Ruidiaz goal just before half.
The attendance: 68,741, the largest ever for a CCL match. Seattle now owns every available trophy to the club: MLS Cup, the CCL, the U.S. Open Cup and the Supporter’s Shield.
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