SEATTLE, WA – Raúl Ruidíaz picks up an opening night brace as the Seattle Sounders rolled Minnesota United 3-0 at home on Friday. In his return to the club, Freddy Montero picked up an assist and goal off the bench.
At the halftime break, this was going to be a very different game recap. The Sounders did not seem ready to play in tonight’s match while Minnesota looked like they wanted revenge for last seasons Western Conference Final blunder. The Loons applied a high press that made the Rave Green noticeably uncomfortable and led to poor turnovers in the midfield. Luckily for the Sounders, MNUFC were not able to convert any of their chances.
In fact, the best chance in the opening half was off a handball call that awarded Seattle a PK in the 29th minute. With Nico not in the lineup for the Sounders, Ruidíaz was the man to take the kick. He went left and so did Loon goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair to deny the go ahead opportunity. We went into the locker room scoreless.
Anybody following the team over the last, oh I don’t know, 12 years would know by now that this club seems to always be a second half performer and proved that to be true again.
In what might be the goal of the year, João Paulo rocketed home a volley golazo from outside the box to give the boys in green a 1-0 lead in the 49’. The goal also was a complete flip in the feel of the match as the Sounders started to be the aggressor with the lead.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) April 17, 2021
That led to two quick succession goals by Ruidíaz in the 70’ and 73’ minutes. The later goal was assisted by a familiar face to Sounders faithful, as Freddy Montero checked on and immediately got the hockey assist for Raúl. It didn’t stop there for the clubs all-time leading goal scorer though, as Freddy knocked one of his own into the back of the net in the 86’ to put the nail in the coffin.
Coming into this match the biggest thing that most people were looking for was the chemistry that Bruin and Ruidíaz could have together in a 5-3-2 formation. Many fans were hoping for a Dempsey and Obi type flow between the two, and that more than likely will never happen. But, overall the two strikers did play pretty well together. The first half was sloppy and one to forget. The second is where you started to see a bit of a spark between them, as evident by the first Raúl goal that was set up by a perfect run and dish by Bruin. Give it time and I think those two could feed off of each other.
Another thing that was being focused on was the play of the wingers now that Morris was gone, and a new formation was being implemented. It was not a good day for Brad Smith working from the left back position as he couldn’t connect a pass to save his life, can’t be too hard on him for one game though as he has proved that he is a solid player in this league. Alex Roldan on the other side continues to show improvements and could develop into a vital MLS player.
The defense was also a strong suit today. When the starting XI was announced, many were concerned with the fact that Yeimar Gómez Andrade wasn’t in the back line, but the crew held it down. Nouhou, Arreaga and O’neill performed spectacularly for being the first match of the season. We did eventually see Andrade sub on, so having four solid options is never a bad thing.
One last thing, Lodeiro did not play tonight and that should be a scary thought for all other MLS clubs.
The Sounders will have their first road test of the season and it will come against one of the preseason favorites in LAFC. That game will be next Saturday the 24th, giving the Sounders a full weeks rest and time for preparation. Kickoff is scheduled for a 3:00 PM Pacific kickoff from Banc of California Stadium.
Russell is the Content Director for the Eli Network. He studied broadcast journalism at Eastern Oregon and North Dakota State University. Mostly covers soccer and basketball in the Seattle area and is the current play-by-play voice for Seattle Redhawks basketball. You can follow him @brussbrwn.