CARSON, Calif. (AP) — The Seattle Sounders know they caught a break when Raúl Ruidíaz was surprisingly left off Peru's roster for the Copa America tournament earlier this month.
They capitalized on Ruidíaz's presence once again to stay unbeaten when they returned from Major League Soccer's long break.
Ruidíaz scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second half, and the Sounders extended the longest unbeaten start to a season in team history with a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy on Saturday night.
Yeimar Gómez Andrade also scored as the MLS-leading Sounders overcame an early deficit and improved to 6-0-3, matching the eighth-longest unbeaten start in league history. The Galaxy set the MLS record in 1996 with a 12-0 start.
“I’m proud of a lot of things in the club, the perseverance," Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “You guys can write a story about the 6-0-3 start, and it’s been pretty darn good.”
Ruidíaz’s seventh goal of the season came in Seattle’s first game after the star forward wasn’t chosen for the Copa America. He also pulled even with LA’s Javier Hernández for the overall MLS scoring lead when Chicharito was shut out for his third straight game.
“Raúl came back from Peru to be with us,” Schmetzer said. “We’re very happy about that. The fact he scored the winning goal puts a smile on my face. We had a plan for Chicharito when he came to Seattle, and we used the same tactics here. ... I think we played well as a team to limit him.”
Sacha Kljestan converted a penalty in the first half for the Galaxy, who couldn't convert numerous chances to even it in the waning minutes. LA dropped to 5-3-0, with two of its losses against the Sounders.
The Galaxy’s loss disappointed most of the 23,165 fans in their first full-capacity crowd since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kljestan lamented the Sounders' “two soft goals” while the Galaxy got just two shots on target, but the veteran saw an otherwise solid performance on both ends.
“So frustrating and disappointing to lose at home in front of the big crowd,” Kljestan added. “It was so fun to play in front of them again ... but I feel like if we play like that with and without the ball, I think we’re going to be pretty good.”
The Sounders improved to 7-1-5 in their last 13 meetings with the Galaxy since 2016. Seattle also beat LA twice in a season for just the second time in the rivalry's history.
The Galaxy played without captain Jonathan Dos Santos, who has a calf strain. LA then lost defender Daniel Steres to an injury in the opening minutes, but still took the lead when Chicharito drew a penalty from a foul by João Paulo.
Although Kljestan coolly converted the penalty in the 21st minute for his second goal of the season, Seattle still hasn't allowed a goal in the run of play all season long.
Seattle evened it on Gómez Andrade's header late in the first half, and the Sounders went ahead right after the break with more pressure and fortunate ball luck. A bouncing throw-in eventually led to a rebound goal by Ruidíaz after goalkeeper Jonathan Bond made an initial save.
“The energy from the crowd really gives us life,” Kljestan said. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t score a late goal to get that place to really pop off.”
French defender Séga Coulibaly made his Galaxy debut nearly two months after signing with his first MLS club, with his move from Nancy delayed by immigration paperwork.
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