Last Wednesday night, Raul Ruidiaz scored a brace to help Seattle Sounders FC make their mark on CONCACAF Champions League history, beating Liga MX side Pumas UNAM 3-0 in the second leg and 5-2 on aggregate to win the title.
The Sounders became 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.
It’s the first time a Major League Soccer team has won the tournament, and secured a FIFA Club World Cup spot, after four clubs previously came up short.
Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 45th minute, depositing a deflected goal past Pumas goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera after centre back Xavier Arreaga laid off a left-sided cross.
The Peruvian striker added his second in the 80th minute, curling home a beautiful feed from Lodeiro for the 2-0 lead after some intricate build-up play.
That set the stage for Seattle’s star playmaker to seal the deal, with Lodeiro finishing into an open net in the 88th minute after Jordan Morris’ shot was saved by Talavera and bounced into the Uruguayan midfielder’s path off the post.
Seattle’s night started in a rocky fashion after left-back Nouhou and central midfielder Joao Paulo exited inside 30 minutes with injuries but substitutes Kelyn Rowe and Obed Vargas stepped up – with depth driving much of the club’s historic run this spring.
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,” Ruidiaz said.
“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 Liga MX clubs after beating Leon in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Pumas was left without a major title since winning the Liga MX Clausura crown in 2011.