SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders are headed to Las Vegas for the Leagues Cup Final! Seattle took a 1-0 win over Santos Laguna thanks to a goal from Raúl Ruidíaz in the final minute of stoppage time. This is what the Leagues Cup should be. Even though the first half ended 0-0 and the crowd was sparse, the game was undeniably fun. The Brothers Roldan were vibing all up and down the right side, Ruidíaz and Fredy Montero were absolutely “trying sh*t” in a purely Clint Dempsey sense of the phrase, everyone was having a great time.
The second half was a tougher row to hoe, but the Sounders continued to push despite the stones in their path. Brian Schmetzer made a handful of changes as the half wore on, one of which led directly to the goal and the win as Léo Chú came on for Kelyn Rowe in the 82nd minute.
Chu hardly set the world on fire in the first 10 minutes of his debut, but in the dying moments of the game João Paulo found Chú in midfield to start a counter attack and Chú hit a perfect ball for Ruidíaz to run onto as he crossed the midfield line. Ruidíaz held off his defenders and set up his shot, and although the Santos goalkeeper stopped it Ruidíaz was first to the rebound and finished confidently. Seattle are through to the final where they’ll face the winner between Pumas and Leon on Sept. 22.
6’ — Raúl Ruidíaz thinks he’s caught the goalkeeper off his line and lets a shot rip from deep, but the GK has it handled easily.
18’ — After holding off a defender, Fredy Montero plays a ball into the middle of the field that Cristian Roldan runs onto. Roldan’s through ball is a hair too far ahead of Ruidíaz.
32’ — Santos are able to turn a Sounders attack around and come back with a counter, but Xavier Arreaga is able to stand a runner up and pick off and clear the ball.
49’ — Santos was inches from opening the scoring with a curing effort that zipped wide of Frei’s far post. The flag goes up belatedly and the whistle is blown for offside.
58’ — Kelyn Rowe hits a great cross that Montero connects with at the far post, but his shot is over the bar.
65’ — Santos wins a free kick about 20 yards out and opt to go direct with it. The shot beats Frei, but it pings off the far post, back across goal and out for a goal kick.
90’+ 3 — Ruidíaz scores! Léo Chú puts him in behind the defense, and while the initial shot is saved Ruidíaz is first to the rebound and puts it home! 1-0
Ruidíaz loves the limelight: Raúl Ruidíaz loves scoring goals and winning games. He loves doing it in big games even more. He’s tied for the most MLS Cup Playoff goals for an active player, and he just scored his second Leagues Cup goal to send the Sounders to yet another final. He did it at the death, and at this point it’s as likely as anything else that it’s not the last goal he scores in this tournament. He’s now got 16 goals in 24 all-competitions appearances in 2021, and he’s certainly not done yet.
Kelyn Rowe continues to impress: It’s time for a little bit of honesty. I was openly questioning the logic and reasoning that continues to see Kelyn Rowe given starts in midfield while Josh Atencio sits on the bench, especially when Rowe is started alongside João Paulo as a presumably more defensive midfielder. I was wrong for that. From minute one Rowe was not only putting in the work, but making tackles and reading plays well, along with showing off some silky touches to create space and find the room necessary to progress the Sounders out of their defensive third. Rowe might not be in Seattle’s ideal or best XI, but there’s probably not a better candidate for the 12th man and the Sounders certainly wouldn’t be where they are right now without him.
Vegas baby! The Sounders are going to a final! Another one! This is the fifth final of any kind that the Sounders have played in since Schmetzer took over in 2016, which is a remarkable feat. Some might say - if Seattle wins next Wednesday - that the Leagues Cup is the biggest and most important trophy up for grabs in this age of MLS x Liga MX brand synergy and vertical integration. This particular final is being held in Las Vegas, a neutral city and venue that’s sure to offer those in attendance a heck of a time, win or lose. For those of you brave and fortunate enough to make the trip and cheer on the boys, have fun, travel safely, and bring home that weird looking cup!
Did you see that?!?
He won’t get an assist, but this pass from Léo Chú is a great piece of play and a tantalizing look at what he could offer going forward.
He said what?!?
‘I came here to make history. I hope this is the first of many more while I’m here.’ - Leo Chu— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) September 15, 2021
One stat to tell the tale
1st — The Seattle Sounders are the first MLS team to make a Leagues Cup Final.
Man of the match