Reinforcements are on the way for the Seattle Sounders.
The Sounders, who have scored just 11 goals in 12 MLS games this season, announced Friday they’ve signed forward Raul Ruidiaz, a Peruvian international, as a designated player. Ruidiaz led Mexico’s LigaMX in goals each of past two seasons while playing for Morelia.
“We were relentless in our pursuit of Raul because he is a proven difference-maker at the highest levels of the game,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “Wherever he has played, he has made his teams better.”
Ruidiaz won’t be eligible until July 10, meaning he’ll just have to watch Saturday’s showdown with Cascadia Cup rival Portland at CenturyLink Field.
The rivals last met May 13 in Portland, with the Timbers’ Sebastian Blanco scoring in the 86th minute for a 1-0 victory. That game was the 100th all-time meeting between the teams, dating to 1975 in the old North American Soccer League.
“These are the easiest games in regards to the mentality, because everybody understands when you play Seattle and you’re a Portland Timbers player, this is going to be a huge game and it’s going to be a difficult game and it’s a derby,” first-year Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “These are the games that actually every player on the team understands clearly what is at stake.”
The Timbers (6-3-5) are undefeated in their past nine matches after a 1-1 draw Sunday in Atlanta. Larrys Mabiala scored for Portland and Jeff Attinella made eight saves.
The two-time defending Western Conference champion Sounders (3-8-3) are coming off a 1-1 tie at home with Chicago. Clint Dempsey scored for the Sounders, his first of 2018 and the 47th regular-season goal with them, tying Fredy Montero (2009-2012) for the franchise record.
“Obviously it’s a big game for a lot of different reasons,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “Number one, it’s our archrival, number two we need to collect points after dropping a couple on the weekend. But it’s Portland, so I’ll just stick with that.”
The Sounders, in their 10th season in MLS, are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time.
“There’s a lot at stake,’’ Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan told The Seattle Times. “We have so much to lose at this point. We’re at the bottom of the table, and if we continue to lose then Portland can just laugh at us. We have to continue to fight together as a team and realize that it’s survival mode. We have to win games, and in order to do that you have to play these big teams and beat them up.’’
Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who made six saves against the Fire, was injured late in that match and is in the concussion protocol. Frei is listed as questionable for the Portland game.
The Sounders are 9-6-6 against the Timbers in regular-season MLS play, including 7-0-3 at home.
—Field Level Media