Raul Ruidiaz came to the rescue for the Seattle Sounders, scoring a late equalizer and a stoppage-time winner as his team came from behind to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, earning them the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and a Knockout Round bye in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.
A Chad Marshall own goal gave the Quakes the lead in the 64th minute, but Ruidiaz struck first in the 79th minute and again in the third minute of stoppage time to lift the Sounders to a dramatic final-day win.
The teams played out a back-and-forth first half, with both ‘keepers put to work to the tune of three saves each. Early in the half, Anibal Godoy tested Stefan Frei from outside the box, and Chris Wondolowski, looking to tie the all-time scoring record, was not able to put the rebound on target from a tight angle.
On the other end, Seattle’s best sequence came as Osvaldo Alonso tested San Jose’s JT Marcinkowski, who parried away a low effort from the edge of the box. Nicolas Lodeiro’s follow-up effort slammed off the post, and a Quakes defender was able to block a third effort from Nouhou Tolo and end the danger.
The Sounders stepped up the pressure in the second half, but fell behind just after the hour mark as Danny Hoesen got free down the right side and, looking for Wondolowski at the far post, instead saw his cross deflected in at the near post by Marshall.
Seattle continued to press for a goal, and finally took advantage of a sleeping Quakes defense when Cristian Roldan found a streaking Ruidiaz at the far post, who used his body to redirect the cross into the goal.
Quakes forward Magnus Eriksson had a golden chance to help restore San Jose's lead and set up Wondolowski his record-tying goal late in the match after he forced a turnover in midfield, but his set-up pass was just a little behind the veteran forward, forcing him to slow down and allowing the Seattle defense to recover and clear the danger. It was the last good look of the game for Wondolowski, who will now have to wait until 2019 to continue his pursuit of the all-time scoring record.
That also allowed Seattle the opportunity to take all three points, and they did so when Lodeiro found Ruidiaz with a precise one-touch pass for the Peruvian to calmly finish under pressure.
- 64' – SJ – Chad Marshall (OG) | Watch
- 79' – SEA – Raul Ruidiaz | Watch
- 90+3' – SEA – Raul Ruidiaz | Watch
- THE BIG PICTURE: The two teams' playoff fates were locked up well before this one, and but Seattle will be celebrating this result as it allows them to avoid the Western Conference Knockout Round. A young Quakes side headed for the offseason put in a spirited performance, giving incoming head coach Matias Almeyda plenty to think about when he watches the game tape.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Ruidiaz's equalizer not only gave Seattle the win, it had huge implications up and down the Western Conference standings.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Ruidiaz takes the honors for his two-goal performance, a late reward for his tireless efforts throughout the game.
- SEA: Western Conference semifinals | Thurs. Nov 8 vs. TBD
- SJ: End of season