Sounders keeper Stefan Frei wanted to see that championship look from his club Tuesday — the MLS version — and he didn’t have to wait long.

Minutes into the match against Vancouver, striker Raul Ruidiaz was tag teaming with Fredy Montero to disrupt the visitor’s defensive plans. Before the half-hour mark, the Sounders were up two goals and were able to coast their way to a 4-0 win at Lumen Field.

The Sounders have a 15-match unbeaten streak against the Whitecaps, including postseason play. More importantly, the win put Seattle (6-6-1) above the playoff line in MLS Western Conference standings.

Montero crafted Seattle’s opening goal. He received a pass from Ruidiaz for a shot that was saved. But Montero kept pushing in the box, Whitecaps keeper Cody Cropper colliding with the Colombian to get called for the foul in the fourth minute.

Sounders midfielder Nico Lodeiro took and made the penalty kick in the fifth minute.

Analysis: Here’s what to watch for as the Sounders return from a break looking to get into playoff chase
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Ruidiaz followed with his own score in the 28th minute. Teammate Kelyn Rowe had a through ball to Jimmy Medranda that seemed to deflect off the defender. But it was ruled an assist as Ruidiaz powered a right-footed shot into the net on his first touch.

Cropper froze as he watched the ball whip past him at an improbable angle.

Ruidiaz stunned Cropper again in the 54th minute when the Peruvian international tapped in a cross from winger Leo Chu. The forward missed out on a hat trick when an attempt with Cropper off his line was blocked, but Ruidiaz’s eight all-time goals against Vancouver is the most of any player against the Whitecaps since the Cascadia rival joined MLS in 2009.

Defender Alex Roldan closed the scoring for Seattle with a goal in the 89th minute. It was his first of the season.

Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer subbed off Ruidiaz in the 64th minute for Will Bruin because of an possible hamstring injury. The announced crowd of 31,165 gave Ruidiaz a spirited ovation as he made his way to the bench.

Ruidiaz has bagged a goal in four of his past five MLS matches.

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“He’s being assessed,” Schmetzer said of Ruidiaz. “Similar to other players (in the past), we took him out as a precaution because the season, we still have a lot of games to play this year.”

Frei wasn’t pressured in the second half but collected his second clean sheet in MLS play.

Tuesday’s match was rescheduled from April due to the Sounders’ winning CONCACAF Champions League run. Due to the international break, Seattle had to play without forward Jordan Morris (U.S.), midfielder Cristian Roldan (U.S.), midfielder Albert Rusnak (Slovakia) and defender Nouhou (Cameroon), who were called up by their respective national teams.

Schmetzer used the absences to give minutes to Chu, a Brazilian winger who was signed in August 2021. Medranda slotted in at right winger, a new position for him in Seattle while Lodeiro teamed with Obed Vargas in the middle.

Rowe can call himself an apt defender as the midfielder filled in for Nouhou, again. The backline also featured Jackson Ragen due to center back Yeimar Gomez Andrade suffering a hamstring injury.

“There were lots of conversations about how we would set up the team because of the absences and (Joao Paulo’s knee) injury,” Schmetzer said. “We all know Nico likes to touch the ball, so that fit his personality. When Nico plays a little bit deeper, sometimes our play from back to front is a little bit better because Nico is not afraid to get the ball in tight spots. … When we put Fredy in Nico’s (normal) position and Nico back a line, I thought that worked very well because Nico and Obed were able to get Fredy in the pocket, Jimmy in the pocket, Raul.

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“ (Assistant coach) Freddy Juarez, who does a lot of good things for this club, hit it out of the park with the tactics.”

Vancouver played without defender Javain Brown (Jamaica) and forward Lucas Cavalini (Canada) due to international duty.

Seattle’s four-game homestand continues against the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles FC on Saturday at Lumen.

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