The Peruvian struck twice in the first half to pace Seattle to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Saturday, giving the Sounders the 2018 Cascadia Cup. It’s the first time the Sounders have won the regional competition -- which also includes the Portland Timbers -- since 2015. It also pushed Seattle’s winning streak to nine games, extending what was already an MLS record for a single season in the post-shootout era.
“It’s a trophy,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei told reporters after the game. “It’s really nice to get accomplishments like climbing out of holes and streaks and things but those will all be forgotten. What stays is history – trophies in the cabinet. And today was a big one to come here and get a trophy that we know our fans really appreciate, so they can celebrate.
“We’ve had a few seasons where we’ve had accomplishments and I think they’re massive accomplishments,” he added. “But no one’s going to write that down and be like, ‘In 2018 the Sounders came out of this hole and that was a huge accomplishment.’ But they will write down the fact that we’ve won a trophy.”
As for Ruidiaz, the 28-year-old striker has been as advertised since joining Seattle from Monarcas Morelia of Liga MX on a Designated Player contract in the summer.
Saturday’s brace gives him five goals and an assist in eight games since his club debut on July 21 and it’s no coincidence Seattle’s win streak started virtually immediately following his arrival.
"It’s beautiful,” Ruidiaz said. “I’ve been waiting for this a long time. ...The truth is I’m really surprised by all this. The effort is more than just a group, we’re a family and that is why everything is coming out excellent.”
Ruidiaz’s impact may have been expected given his pedigree but it’s also not lost on his teammates. While the goals have certainly given a necessary boost to Seattle’s attack, his presence has also had a ripple effect on the rest of the team, especially midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, who has been one of the league’s hottest players over the course of the record-setting win streak.
Now, the Sounders have some silverware to show for it, just nine games into Ruidiaz's MLS career.
“He’s a winner,” Frei said of Ruidiaz. “I don’t think you need to prep him on what’s at stake and what he’s here to do. That’s why we brought him to the team because he’s been successful and he’s lethal up there. He showed that again. So, it’s really nice to get him going for us.
“We’ve been scoring on set pieces a lot and we’ve had people chip in all over the shop which is great, but the goal-scorers need to be the strikers. Two big goals and I’m pretty sure he’d done his [research] on what we’d won before and he knew today we had a chance to win an important trophy.”