Although not surprising, the Seattle Sounders have picked up the club option for the 2022 season on Raúl Ruidíaz. This is potentially the first step toward starting contract extension negotiations.
That was at least how things developed for Nicolás Lodeiro last season when the Sounders came to terms with the Uruguayan on his three-year deal before the playoffs. That approach proved successful and is one reason why Garth Lagerway could go that route to secure the franchise’s second-highest-paid player.
Speaking to KJR, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer effectively confirmed the contract extension talks.
“He’s going to get rewarded after the end of this year with a new contract, and that’ll be great,” Schmetzer said. “The team is hopefully going to keep him around for another few years.”
Most players expect to get an extension that secures their future well before their option year; there are even quite a few that remain confused at the concept behind a club option or simply dislike the idea behind it as it’s rare outside MLS. In Ruidíaz’s case, not only is he not a fan of that concept but it is no secret that since his arrival in MLS he has proven to be fundamental for the Rave Green’s success. The Peruvian striker is likely anticipating a multiyear deal offer sooner rather than later, especially coming off his most productive season as a goal scorer. Ruidíaz is currently second in the Golden Boot standings with a club-record-tying 17 goals. He also scored two goals in Leagues Cup play, as the Sounders qualified for that final. The 19 all-competition goals are also tied for a Sounders single-season record.
Arguably just as impressive as his stats was Ruidíaz’s ability to modify his play to a formation that he had never played before.
For Seattle’s front office, it has to be promising to see their 31-year-old Designated Player display his versatility in order to adapt so effortlessly whether it was as a lone striker, second striker, or the rotating cast around him.
From facing the best players in Liga MX in late August to facing the best teams in Mexico’s top division, it was only a matter of time before “La Pulga” caught the eye of a few teams in that league. At this time, there are no offers nor official conversations, but I have been told by more than one source that there are a few Mexican teams interested in Ruidíaz’s future.
One of those teams looking to potentially target Ruidíaz, appears to be Liga MX Clausura champions Cruz Azul, currently 5th in the Apertura standings. Cruz Azul also have several former Morelia Monarcas (Ruidíaz’s former team) in their front office as well as Peruvian head coach Juan Reynoso. In past conversations, Ruidíaz has expressed how happy he is in the Pacific Northwest and has even talked about finishing his career in Seattle. Despite his love for this fanbase, having one of Mexico’s biggest clubs could complicate things.
Of more pressing concern is Ruidiaz’s MRI scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The forward was substituted after playing 60 minutes and tallying a goal after feeling pain in his recently rehabilitated hamstring.