For the twelfth consecutive season, Seattle Sounders FC are headed to the MLS post-season, a position the Rave Green clinched on Tuesday night with a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at Providence Park in Portland.
Playing in Vancouver's United States home during the 2020 regular season, Seattle used a two-goal second half to vault the club to the victory with shots coming from Raul Ruidiaz, assisted by Nouhou, and Nicolas Lodeiro, assisted by Ruidiaz. The Peruvian striker, a "recovered player" in the eyes of the league after contracting COVID-19 while on international duty, played his first match for the Sounders since October 3, another win over the Whitecaps.
A pinpoint cross by Nouhou reached Ruidiaz's foot in the 54th minute before hitting the back of the net, yet the play needed a video review to determine no offside penalty should have been called on the goal, as it initially was.
Six minutes later, centerback Yeimar Gomez Andrade sent a long ball to Ruidiaz in Vancouver's box where Raul then turned left towards goal, evaded defender Ranko Veselinovic, crossed the ball to a trailing Lodeiro, and watched as Nicolas clinically tucked the shot away into the left side of the net. While the Sounders nearly captured a third goal on multiple occasions, the defense held strong and Stefan Frei recorded another shutout.
The victory marks Seattle's tenth of the year, and the three points gained, for the moment, pushes the Rave Green back up to first place in the Western Conference, two points above Sporting Kansas City (33) who play Wednesday evening in Cincinnati.
The win also clinched the Sounders' spot in the 2020 MLS playoffs, a place the club has been every season dating back to their inaugural year of 2009.
While Ruidiaz returned for Seattle from international duty, so did centerback Xavier Arreaga and midfielder Gustav Svensson, both of whom started for the Sounders in the match. Unlike Raul, Arreaga and Svensson did not contract COVID-19, finished their time with Ecuador and Sweden two weeks ago and have been quarantining at home before becoming eligible to play for the Sounders on Tuesday.
The club also saw the return of Joevin Jones from a right high ankle sprain as the left back and midfielder entered the game in the 73rd minute for Joao Paulo. An injury scare shortly after coming on puts his status back in question for Sunday's match in Colorado.
Left back Brad Smith continues to be out with a hamstring strain, but was upgraded from out to questionable on Seattle's latest injury report.
Tune in to 950 KJR's Sounders Weekly with Jackson Felts on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. for a preview ahead of the club's match on Sunday against the Colorado Rapids, who play tomorrow in Minnesota. You can also listen to KJR's Postgame Show from Tuesday below as Pete Fewing and Jackson analyzed the 2-0 win over Vancouver. Plus, as usual, check out highlights from the victory below as well!