TUKWILA, Wash. – Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz said his ankle was fine after taking a knock in training while on international duty with the Peruvian national team. Despite training on the side during Friday’s session, the 28-year-old forward said he was ready to play Saturday in a match that has significant implications in both the Cascadia Cup and the playoff race.
“You’re right, I did take a small blow, but it’s in the past,” Ruidiaz said through a translator Friday. “I’m recovered, I feel 100 percent to keep doing what we’re doing.”
What Ruidiaz has been doing in league play is harassing opposing back lines. The forward has three goals and an assist in seven starts since joining the Sounders. Just as importantly, the Sounders have won all eight of their matches since his debut, which coincidentally came in a sub appearance against the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 15. The Sounders have also scored 19 goals in those eight games after scoring 16 in their previous 18 matches.
“I feel very well (playing in MLS),” Ruidiaz said. “I feel adapted. We have an excellent group, that’s how we managed to get to this winning streak. We just need to keep working to get to the good things.
“I (have a good understanding with Nicolas Lodeiro), but also with everyone else on the team. We built a team that people are rallying and supporting one another on the pitch.”
For Ruidiaz, the fact that Saturday’s match is, in essence, a cup final relates perfectly to the mindset of the team over its recent run of form as the Sounders stare down the final eight matches of the regular season.
“The team is very focused, we’re always well-prepared and playing each match as if it were a final. We know we need to go, get the win and keep going.”