Gulf Today

Seattle thump Minnesota 4−0 in MLS season opener


LOS ANGELES: Joao Paulo’s blistering strike and a brace from Raul Ruidiaz helped the Seatle Sounders to a convincing 4-0 victory over Minnesota United Friday on the opening day of the 2021 Major League Soccer season.

Brazilian midfielder Joao Paulo put the Sounders up 1-0 in the 49th minute with a lightning bolt from 25 yards out. Ater the Loons failed to clear a cross he controlled the ball with one touch and fired it past Minnesota keeper Dayne St. Clair into the upper let corner.

The start to the season for the reigning Western Conference champions was a rousing success as the Sounders welcomed fans back to Lumen Field for the first time in 13 months with a foursome of masterful goals in a game that was otherwise choppy and at times sloppy.

St. Clair had denied Ruidiaz’s penalty with a diving stop in the 29th minute, the atempt awarded ater midfielder Wil Trapp was whistled for a handball in the penalty area.

But Peru’s Ruidiaz pushed the Sounders’ lead to 2-0 in the 70th minute, and he struck again three minutes later with a let-footed shot off a cross from Cristian Roldan. Freddy Montero, Seatle’s all-time leading goalscorer, scored on his Sounders’ return in the 86th minute, and goalkeeper Stefan Frei made five saves.

Montero, who played for Seatle from 2009-12 and re-signed with them in the offseason. Seatle and Minnesota joined arms before the game in a gesture to raise awareness around racial injustice.

Players from both clubs also wore black armbands to acknowledg­e the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was shot and killed Sunday by a police officer in the Minneapoli­s suburb of Brooklyn Center.

Wright’s death came amid the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who’s being tried in the death of George Floyd last year in Minneapoli­s.

Elsewhere, Houston’s Memo Rodriguez scored the first goal of the season as the Dynamo beat the San Jose Earthquake­s 2-1.

Houston were clicking early, and ater a strike by Fafa Picault was ruled offside midfielder Rodriguez scored in the 39th minute, collecting a ball from Joe Corona and firing a right-footed shot from the center of the penalty area.

Maxi Urruti made it 2-0 for Houston in the 56th minute with a close-range strike.

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