For a large portion of the Seattle Sounders' match against Charlotte FC on Sunday, it looked like ending in frustration for the hosts.
Seattle fell behind on 21 minutes to a Ben Bender goal and they had to wait until the 72nd to find an equalizer through Jordan Morris. Then Raul Ruidiaz decided a point was not good enough.
The Peruvian is a clinical striker but his most impressive trait is absolutely the ability to score any type of goal. On Sunday, he pulled one right out of the 'golazo' category, cutting back with the ball inside the Charlotte box and unleashing a brilliant shot into the far corner beyond Kristijan Kahlina.
“It’s what he does best,” Sounders full-back Alex Roldan said of Ruidiaz. “He puts the ball in the back of the net in places that you don’t think are even possible. With his technique and his form, nine out of 10 times if anyone else tries to do that it doesn’t go in.”
Head coach Brian Schmetzer added: “[The players] never quit, they never stop believing they can win games, and then it’s handy to have a player like Raúl who can score goals like that. That was an unbelievable [goal].”
Are Seattle Sounders back in MLS Cup Playoff contention?
The Sounders have understandably been distracted at the start of this MLS season by their Concacaf Champions League commitments. The Rave Green became the first team from Major League Soccer to go all the way and win the tournament in its current guise.
That led to some lackluster domestic form, but Sunday's match against Charlotte was the first of a five-game homestand, with the other four fixtures - against Vancouver Whitecaps, LAFC, Sporting KC, and CF Montreal - all coming after the international break.
While it's too early for any game to be season-defining, Schmetzer is under no illusions as to just how important this win was, lifting the Sounders to 10th in the Western Conference and just two points below the Playoff line with games in hand.
“It was not a must-win game, but kind of a must-win game if we wanted to really consider ourselves contenders for playoff positioning and going deep in the playoffs,” said Schmetzer.
“We have to make a statement that we’re back and we’re here at home and we’re going to start collecting points. It was a pretty important game for them mentally.”