SEATTLE — Ever since Raúl Ruidíaz arrived here, everything surrounding his name has an aura that highlights him as the face of a franchise. The international coverage updating his every move; single-handedly sparking the creation of a local supporters group as well as his own fan club; and, now, he has been honored with his own mural in Capitol Hill, depicting the newest Sounders’ Designated Player. The image of “La Pulga” is located outside of Neumos, on 925 East Pike Street, stands two stories high and was painted by local street artist “Weirdo” who took five days to complete the piece.
“It’s probably the most vibrant area of Seattle right now, I mean as far as just the amount of people every day, it’s just really in everybody’s face,” the artist said. “We wanted to put something that was impactful and beautiful, that could just keep the team lit and right in the middle of everything.”
Having a mural of this magnitude, inspired by the Sounders FC striker in one of Seattle’s most iconic neighborhoods, only amplifies an undeniable connection that exists between the city, its soccer club and now Ruidíaz, who was truly taken back by the significance of this piece of work.
“Ever sense my arrival in Seattle, everything has been insane, I’ve felt very happy, very comfortable, they have made me feel at home and now after a month seeing myself in a wall is something incredible,” said Ruidíaz after staring at the mural for a few minutes. “It fills me with satisfaction, it gives me more energy to do things well and give them joys for everything they have done”.
It’s clear that Ruidíaz wants to exchange his gratitude for the city in wins and goals, something every rave green fan should be happy to hear. But Peruvian fans are feeling an extra sense of pride. The unveiling of the mural meant that their community would now, in one way or another, be represented by an athlete that was quickly become iconic around MLS for wearing his national colors on his sleeve. That was on display in San Jose — where he celebrated his goal with a Peru flag and then was greeted by a mob of fans afterward —and even in Minnesota. At the mural unveiling, fans witnessed him autograph the wall and he was welcomed by Peruvian Honorary Counsel General, Miguel Angel Vasquez was there to share this moment with Raul.
“I had to be here to see the mural, meet Raul, tell him how happy we are to have him playing for our city and putting our flag up high,” Velasquez said, adding he believed Ruidíaz’s arrival had created a positive impact among Seattle’s Peruvian residents and he thought it was important to be part of the unveiling. This is an indication of how influential Ruidiaz is, not often do country counsels take time away from their diplomatic duties to be a part of an event like this one.
It appears that “El nuevo nueve” has not only brought with him the caliber to help this team be in their current seven-game undefeated streak but he has also brought an entire country to root for his success and consequentially the Seattle Sounders, making its global fan base that much bigger.