Raul Ruidiaz scored a goal and had two assists as the defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders advanced in the playoffs with a 3-1 victory against visiting Los Angeles FC on a rainy Tuesday night.
Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris each added a goal and an assist and goalkeeper Stefan Frei stopped a penalty shot as the second-seeded Sounders reached the Western Conference semifinals, in which they will play host to FC Dallas on Dec. 1.
Eduard Atuesta scored for LAFC, which was without MLS Golden Boot winner and MVP finalist Diego Rossi and three other key players -- defender Diego Palacios, midfielder Jose Cifuentes and forward Brian Rodriguez -- who all tested positive for COVID-19 during recent international duty in South America.
Ruidiaz, a 30-year-old Peruvian, has eight goals and six assists in seven career MLS postseason games.
Lodeiro opened the scoring in the 18th minute. Ruidiaz made a run down the right wing and sent a pass all the way across the field for Morris. The U.S. international dropped a pass to Lodeiro, who curled a one-timer from 15 yards out around a defender and just inside the left post, leaving LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega flatfooted.
Los Angeles had a chance to tie the score just three minutes later as Carlos Vela, the reigning league MVP who set an MLS record with 34 goals last season, was tripped in the penalty area by Seattle defender Nouhou Tolo. However, Vela put his penalty kick right at Frei, who was able to clutch the ball to his chest.
Ruidiaz made it 2-0 in the 66th minute, following a corner kick by Lodeiro. The ball was headed away from the goal by the LAFC defense, but Ruidiaz retreated to gain possession just inside the top of the 18-yard box and spun before hitting a low one-timer toward the right post that Sisniega was only able to get his fingertips on.
Atuesta gave Los Angeles some hope in the 77th minute when he took a long cross from Vela and slid toward the goalmouth to tip the ball past Frei.
Morris capped the scoring in the 80th minute on a two-on-one break with Ruidiaz that was set up by a pass from Lodeiro at midfield. Morris rolled the ball past a sprawling Sisniega from just beyond the penalty spot.
--Field Level Media