Raul Ruidiaz scored the opener and added an assist in his first game back from international duty, leading the Seattle Sounders to a 2-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps at Providence Park on Tuesday to clinch a spot in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The match got off to a slow start, as neither side managed a shot on target until the Sounders finally troubled a goalkeeper in the 44th minute. But Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro would strike within six minutes of each other after the second-half restart to give Seattle all three points.
The result clinches a postseason berth for a remarkable 12th straight year for Seattle and puts them back up into the first-place spot in the Western Conference with 35 points from 19 matches, two points clear of second-place Sporting Kansas City.
After a frustrating first half, Seattle found the breakthrough in the 54th minute, as Ruidiaz cashed home a vintage finish off a pinpoint cross from Nouhou. The goal was originally flagged offside, but was awarded after Video Review showed Ruidiaz behind the ball when Nouhou hit the cross.
They would get their second just six minutes later. Ruidiaz collected a ball over the top, charged into the box and found Lodeiro for a finish from inside the penalty area, giving Seattle the 2-0 lead they would see out to the final whistle.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Aside from regaining top spot in the West, the two-goal outburst in the second half was important for a Seattle side that hadn't seen its attacking firing like we're used to over the past few games. That's now officially 12 straight years where the Sounders will be playing playoff soccer, which shouldn't be taken for granted. For Brian Schmetzer and Co., the task now becomes finishing the job and getting that No. 1 seed. The Whitecaps, who fielded a much-changed lineup on Tuesday, will be looking over their shoulders, just two points above the playoff line and with the teams below them having games in hand.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Until Ruidiaz's opener, it felt like this one could end 0-0. The strike was crucial in getting the game to open up, and set the stage for Lodeiro's second just minutes later.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: It has to be Ruidiaz. The Peruvian striker has the type of lethal finishing ability that few in MLS possess, and the type of impact he can make was on full display in his return to the lineup. He also showed his unselfishness with his assist to Lodeiro.