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Sports >  Seattle Sounders

Raul Ruidiaz penalty lifts Sounders past Real Salt Lake to remain undefeated in 2021

UPDATED: Wed., June 23, 2021

Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz, right, celebrates with midfielder Alex Roldan, left, after scoring during second half of an MLS soccer match against the Portland Timbers in Portland, Ore., Sunday, May 9, 2021.   (Associated Press)
Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz, right, celebrates with midfielder Alex Roldan, left, after scoring during second half of an MLS soccer match against the Portland Timbers in Portland, Ore., Sunday, May 9, 2021.  (Associated Press)
By Jayda Evans Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Raul Ruidiaz stood idle in Lumen Field’s north penalty box.

Rarely has the space baffled the Sounders FC forward. Wednesday was one of those times.

Good thing teams switch sides at halftime. What the Sounders couldn’t finish to open their match against Real Salt Lake, the home side found after the break to collect a 2-1 win.

The Sounders (7-0-3) pushed their franchise-record unbeaten streak to 10 games, matching Real Salt Lake’s start in 2014.

Ruidiaz drew contact from RSL keeper David Ochoa in the 88th minute to set up the winning goal. As RSL players debated with the referee, Ruidiaz took the ball and set it at the penalty spot and prepared for the shot. Once Ochoa got into position to defend, Ruidiaz sent a slow floater toward goal, Ochoa already on the ground before the attempt crossed the goal line.

The score marked Ruidiaz’s eighth of the season and 50th across all competitions for the Sounders. He remains tied with Los Angeles Galaxy forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez for the MLS Golden Boot lead.

Ruidiaz took a through ball from midfielder Joao Paulo to help build the scoring play. He sent a cross to Cristian Roldan in the box, the latter doing a half turn to tap an assist to forward Will Bruin.

Ochoa deflected Bruin’s attempt, but Roldan caught the rebound to drive in a left-footed score in the 58th minute.

The relief was apparent on Roldan and Ruidiaz’s faces as they screamed at each other in celebration. Ruidiaz seemingly did everything to create perfect opportunities to score against RSL, including luring Ochoa out of goal in the 39th minute, but nothing connected.

It was RSL defender Andrew Brody who stopped Ruidiaz’s attempt at an open goal, leaving Ruidiaz just standing with a dismayed look in the penalty box after the play was botched.

Sounders keeper Stefan Cleveland committed a foul in the 78th minute that set up a penalty kick for the visitors. Forward Albert Rusnak slotted home a right-footed score.

Seattle still hasn’t conceded a goal through the run of play, an MLS record since the stat became officially tracked in 2010. The scores conceded were on penalty kicks (three) and free kicks (two).

Although none of it produced any goals, the Sounders were full of vigor in their attack to open the match. Roldan broke away from RSL’s defense for a possible attempt in the box in the 7th minute that he couldn’t control and another in the 9th minute that didn’t connect.

Midfielder Jimmy Medranda got a good touch for a counterattack run with Ruidiaz in the 15th minute. The latter sent a powerful shot from long distance at goal but it was off the mark. Another Ruidiaz attempt in the box, center of goal off a Roldan service, floated over goal.

Bruin, Kelyn Rowe and Abdoulaye Cissoko also had attempts that missed. Overall in the opening half the Sounders outshot RSL 9-3 and had 62.6% possession of the ball.

The performance was a stark difference from the club’s past two home matches that resulted in draws against Atlanta United and Austin FC.

Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer made two changes to his starting lineup for the midweek match. Medranda started in place of Brad Smith in the left wingback position. Bruin started up top in place of Fredy Montero. The move is a return to how the club started the season, with the two-forward formation.

The Sounders host the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at Lumen Field.

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