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Is Raul Ruidiaz underrated?
Why the Seattle Sounders striker is among the MLS elite
The Seattle Sounders are off to a somewhat surprising 2-0-1 start after beating the LA Galaxy 3-0 on Sunday night. Their seven points puts them atop the Western Conference after three weeks and their +7 goal differential is best in MLS.
Heading into the year some thought (including me) that Seattle could have a bit of a down year, with some key pieces not coming back and Jordan Morris being out injured. But that is clearly not the case even though they have had to play most of the year without Nicolas Lodeiro.
One of the main reasons it’s been smooth sailing so far? Raul Ruidiaz.
The Peruvian international already has four goals on the year — one behind the en fuego Chicharito for the Golden Boot lead, though Ruidiaz and co. beat Chicharito’s Galaxy on Sunday. This kind of goalscoring form is not out of character for the lilliputian striker as he had 10 goals in just 13 starts in his first MLS season.
But despite his goalscoring record, he’s not usually mentioned among the MLS elite like Vela or Josef. Just look at MLSsoccer.com 😉 placing him at No. 11 on a list of MLS’s best players heading into last season. Part of that has to do with the fact that he’s missed time with injuries and international duty throughout his MLS career, along with the fact that he arrived in the middle of the 2018 season.
But let’s take a look at where he stacks up against some of those players in terms of goals per 90 minutes in their MLS careers.
Carlos Vela: .84
Josef Martinez: .97
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: .98
Raul Ruidiaz: .73
Of course, it’s just a bit less than those players but what brings him up to their level is his record in the playoffs. He’s helped the Sounders win one MLS Cup and reach another and done so by scoring nine goals and contributing six assists in just 10 games. Josef has just five goals and one assist in nine playoff games while Vela has two goals and three assists in four matches (not bad!)
Lodeiro is most often considered Seattle’s best player, and it’s tough to argue considering the Uruguayan’s success in MLS. It’s also not like Ruidiaz hasn’t received plaudits, as he made the Best XI last year. But is it time to consider him Seattle’s best player and among the Josef’s and Vela’s of the world? If he keeps up this form it will be hard to deny.