The Sounders’ intense pursuit of Peruvian international Raul Ruidiaz climaxed Friday with the signing of the 27-year-old striker to a deal as the club’s newest designated player. He spent the past two seasons playing in Mexico with Liga MX side Morelia, but won’t be eligible to play with Seattle until after MLS’s secondary transfer window opens July 10, meaning his first game won’t be until July 15 against league-leading Atlanta.
Ruidiaz has 40 Liga MX goals in his two full seasons, second-most in the league over that span. That’s a talent that looms large for a Sounders side, missing injured Jordan Morris, that is desperate for scoring — their league-low 11 goals are eight fewer than the next most wretched offenses.
Reports say his deal through the 2021 season is worth $14 million, including a $7 million transfer fee to Morelia.
The Sounders are even more desperate for wins. They are off to their worst start, 3-8-3, and play Portland Saturday at the Clink (1:30 p.m., FOX) perhaps without star goalie Stefan Frei, who is in the concussion protocol. They are tied for 10th in the 12-team Western Conference, and a rally needs to commence immediately if they are to keep their streak of nine consecutive playoff appearances alive.
Ruidíaz was a member of the Peru team at the World Cup, and its early ouster helped close the deal.
“We are thrilled,” said Sounders FC general manager Garth Lagerwey in a club statement. “Negotiations for players of this caliber are never easy, stretching across many months with the support of our entire club. Collectively, we were relentless in our pursuit of Raúl because he is a proven difference-maker at the highest levels of the game.
“Wherever he has played, he has made his teams better, scoring well over 100 professional goals. Most recently he played an integral role helping Peru qualify for its first FIFA World Cup since 1982, and his experience as one of Liga MX’s top performers over the past two years will aid our club immediately.”