Opponents know Sounders FC All-Star Raul Ruidiaz doesn’t need much space to score.
In what was described as sweltering Texas heat, Ruidiaz showed he doesn’t need much time, either.
The Peruvian played the role of super-substitution with club captain Nico Lodeiro, both entering the match at FC Dallas in the 63rd minute. Twenty seconds after stepping on the field, Lodeiro sent a left-footed grounder to Ruidiaz, who was up high in the box.
Ruidiaz aimed a left-footed shot at goal that was blocked by Dallas defender Nkosi Tafari. But Ruidiaz collected the rebound and smashed a right-footed shot at goal that ricocheted off the crossbar and post and into the net.
Dallas increased its offensive pressure late in search of the equalizer. But it was not enough to prevent Seattle’s 1-0 win at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday.
“He’s a player that when he steps on the field, he’s going to make things happen,” Sounders midfielder Kelyn Rowe said of Ruidiaz, who has an MLS-leading 14 goals this season. “It’s great for us and great to see him continue his goal-scoring prowess, because we’re going to need that going forward. And both of them (Lodeiro and Ruidiaz), especially everyone at the end, worked really hard to make sure we saw that game out.
“That’s a big win for us. We’ll see that longer in the season. We’re going to look back at this game and find out that we can still grind out a win.”
The Sounders ended a 10-match winless streak against Dallas on the road, including postseason games. Seattle’s previous win at Toyota Stadium was in April 2014.
Seattle also avenged a draw against Dallas at Lumen Field this month. The Sounders conceded a goal in second-half stoppage time for a 1-1 result.
Temperatures Wednesday exceeded 80 degrees with 92% humidity on the field. Both sides appeared sluggish to start.
“I was breathing out of my (expletive), if I’m going to be honest,” Sounders keeper Spencer Richey said. “I assume the guys were struggling, too. Once the game got going, it felt a lot better. But it felt much more humid than Austin (in July), and we had an unfortunate travel day Tuesday with delays. There were a lot of factors that could’ve affected guys, but guys got on with it.”
Jimmy Medranda provided the Sounders with a solid chance to score in 32nd minute. A Dallas foul set up a free kick, where Medranda’s attempt brushed outside the post.
Rowe closed the opening half with an attempt inside the keeper’s box that should’ve been a score. His header arched over the mouth of goal.
Shane O’Neill had two tackles and a deflection in the box to help Richey protect goal. Richey, who also collected a 1-0 shutout in Austin, had one save in the first half. He finished with two overall.
Rowe nearly made amends in the 52nd minute with a nice through ball to forward Will Bruin. The latter was a hair offside as he advanced for the score. Seattle was in the midst of celebrating when the flag went up and disallowed the goal.
“We were so happy for Will,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said of the veteran who does a lot of the dirty work in the two-forward system but has yet to score this season.
Bruin started up top in place of Ruidiaz. In Sunday’s derby win against the Portland Timbers, Ruidiaz had the go-ahead score and a brace in Seattle’s 6-2 win.
Schmetzer made seven changes to the starting lineup used the past two matches, including the win against Tigres UANL. Among the midweek adjustments were replacing left wingback Brad Smith with Nicolas Benezet. The Frenchman scored his first goal as a Sounder in the win Sunday.
The start against Dallas is also Benezet’s first overall since July 17 with Colorado. The Rapids sent Benezet to the Sounders at the close of the transfer window this month.
In the middle of the pitch was the youngest duo of the season in teenage midfielders Josh Atencio (19) and Danny Leyva (18). But the pair are among the most utilized this season.
Atencio, who’s from Bellevue, has made eight starts, logging 734 minutes. Wednesday was Leyva’s sixth start of the year, totaling 601 minutes this season.
“They have the respect of the senior players because they work hard,” Schmetzer said. “Danny gave us some possession, some passing. … Josh was cramping up. The way the game played out, I had used all my subs, and Josh was cramping but he continued to fight. He’s a tough kid, and he gutted the game out. Every goal-kick that Spencer was kicking, Josh would challenge the ball.”
Seattle (11-3-6) concludes its road trip with a MLS Cup rematch against the Columbus Crew on Saturday. It will be the Sounders’ first match at the Crew’s new, 20,000-seat Lower.com Field.
“Raul comes on, scores the winning goal, and everybody feels together,” said Schmetzer, who celebrated his 59th birthday Wednesday. “Everybody feels like they can contribute. … We haven’t won many games here. It’s a hard place to play. The Portland game lifted us because it’s a arch rival. Tonight’s game was gritty, and they were determined.”