Raul Ruidiaz scored a brace to help Seattle Sounders FC make their mark on CONCACAF Champions League history on Wednesday night, beating Liga MX side Pumas UNAM 3-0 in the second leg and 5-2 on aggregate to win the title.
The Sounders become the first Major League Soccer side to win the federation’s annual club competition in its new format, which started in 2008-09. Prior to that, there were only two other American teams to have won a CONCACAF club crown — D.C. United in 1998 and the LA Galaxy in 2000 — when it was known as the Champions Cup.
A record CCL crowd of 68,761 turned out for the match at Lumen Field for the second leg, following last Wednesday’s thrilling first leg that ended in a 2-2 draw thanks to a pair of late penalties awarded to Seattle.
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With half-time approaching, coach Brian Schmetzer’s side found its opener when a laid-off pass in the center of the penalty area found Ruidiaz, whose first-time shot took a deflection off a Pumas defender and bounced into the back of the net to give the Sounders the lead at the break.
The Sounders were forced to make two first-half substitutions due to injury, with Kelyn Rowe coming on for Nouhou Tolo in the 11th minute and Obed Vargas replacing Joao Paulo shortly before the half-hour mark.
With the game still within reach for Pumas late in the match, Ruidiaz scored his second on the tail end of a swift counterattack by Seattle, curling a near-post strike from a Nicolas Lodeiro assist past Alfredo Talavera to double the lead.
Raul Ruidiaz celebrates with teammates and Seattle Sounders fans after scoring a goal in the CONCACAF Champions League. USA Today Images
Lodeiro put the game to bed when he pounced on the rebound of a Jordan Morris shot that came back off the post and slotted home, securing the historic title and sending the raucous sell-out crowd into an uproar.
Pumas’ Juan Dinenno, the top scorer in the tournament, was mostly quiet in the second leg. His best chance was a free kick midway through the second half that missed the net. Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who was named the player of the tournament, made a terrific save on Diogo’s free header in the 65th minute.
The title earned Seattle a spot in the next FIFA Club World Cup and added to an already-filled trophy case that includes U.S. Open Cup titles, an MLS Supporters’ Shield and two MLS Cup titles.
“There are no words to describe what I’m feeling right now, the club made history and we deserved it,” Ruidíaz told Fox Sports.
Seattle managed to finish where Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal (2015), Toronto (2018) and LAFC (2020) fell short in the past as MLS teams that reached the final. Real Salt Lake and Montreal both returned home after pulling off draws on the road against LigaMX opponents only to be defeated in the second legs.
“It means everything. It’s a Wednesday and we’re packing this place with 68,000 people. The passion is so strong in this city and we appreciate it. I’m so happy for everybody that we’re able to achieve this for them,” an emotional Frei said after winning the title.
It was a stellar tournament for Seattle, which went unbeaten in all eight matches of the knockout stage and went 2-0-2 against LigaMX clubs after beating Leon in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile Pumas was left without a major title since winning the Liga MX Clausura crown in 2011.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.