A moment of magic from Raul Ruidiaz just seconds after he entered as a second-half substitute was all the Seattle Sounders needed at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday, as the Rave Green took a 1-0 road victory over FC Dallas on the strength of a delightful game-winner from their standout Peruvian striker.
After fielding a rotated starting lineup due to fixture congestion, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer made a double-sub of Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro in the second half and was rewarded for it, as the two Designated Players combined on the sequence that led to the game's decisive goal just after entering.
Seattle dodged an early scare on 20 minutes, when FC Dallas homegrown Jesus Ferreira uncorked a distance shot that he put on target at the end of a charging run that began in his own end. The effort looked bound for goal, but was denied by a sprawling save from Sounders goalkeeper Spencer Richey, then cleared to safety by Shane O'Neill.
Seattle had their best look of the first half just before halftime when Nicolas Benezet sent in a cross that found Kelyn Rowe for a free header in front of goal, but Rowe's effort went wide of the far post.
Dallas started the second half on the front foot, generating a pair of opportunities just after the restart through Ricardo Pepi. The talented homegrown forced Richey into another sprawling save in the 47th minute, then put a subsequent shot just wide after getting the ball back off the rebound.
Seattle thought they opened the scoring just minutes later when Will Bruin got on the end of a feed from Rowe and smashed the ball home after a pinpoint switch from Josh Atencio. But the veteran forward saw his strike waved off by a late flag-raise from the assistant referee for offside.
Ruidiaz nabbed the opener just after he was brought on as a substitute right past the hour mark. The forward collected a feed from fellow sub Lodeiro and saw his initial shot blocked, but beat Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer with a gorgeous curling strike from inside the area that deflected off the post and bounced into the net.
FC Dallas had their best look at a late leveler in the 84th minute off a redirected shot from Franco Jara that went just wide of Richey, allowing Seattle to see out the 1-0 final.
- 63' - SEA - Raul Ruidiaz | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: After a brief lull of three losses in five games, the Sounders appear to be rolling again. This marked their second straight road win coming off their 6-2 demolition of the Portland Timbers at Providence Park last Sunday. The three points vault Seattle back over Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the Western Conference table. It's a tough defeat for FC Dallas, who really need to be taking three points in every home match they can to get back into the West playoff picture given their poor road form this season.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It didn't take Raul Ruidiaz long to make his mark in this one. Twenty seconds, to be exact, was how long it took the Golden Boot presented by Audi leader to find his 14th goal of the year.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Raul Ruidiaz certainly made the most of his short shift, but Josh Atencio continues to impress for Seattle, showing why the 19-year-old has become such a trusted cog in Schmetzer's rotation with another poised performance.