Sounders sign Raul Ruidiaz to $14 million designated-player contract

TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle Sounders have signed Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz to a designated player contract, hoping the goal-scorer can spark a down season by the defending Western Conference champions.

Seattle announced the deal Friday following Peru's exit from the World Cup. Ruidiaz was on the roster for the Los Incas, but didn't see the field in any of the three group stage games. Ruidiaz immediately left Russia for the Pacific Northwest, posting images on social media from the Seattle area.

Ruidiaz is coming off two seasons with Morelia, where the 27-year-old led LigaMX in goals in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Ruidiaz had 19 goals last season. Ruidiaz's signing in Seattle has been expected for a few weeks after his previous club tweeted a thank you to the striker earlier this month.

Ruidiaz will be eligible to play for Seattle after July 10.

"Negotiations for players of this caliber are never easy, stretching across many months with the support of our entire club," Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey said. "Collectively, we were relentless in our pursuit of Raul because he is a proven difference-maker at the highest levels of the game. Wherever he has played, he has made his teams better."

He'll join a Seattle attack that has struggled from the start after forward Jordan Morris was lost for the year to a torn knee ligament before the MLS regular season began. The Sounders have just 11 goals in 12 games, eight fewer than any other team in the league. They have scored more than one goal three times in 12 games.

Seattle's three wins are tied for second-worst in the league.

How quickly Ruidiaz is able to help turn things around will ultimately determine whether Seattle can continue its streak of making the MLS Cup playoffs every season since joining the league in 2009.

Internationally, Ruidiaz is best known for scoring the controversial goal in Peru's 1-0 win over Brazil in the group stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario that knocked the Brazilians out of the competition and advanced Peru to the knockout round. Ruidiaz scored using his right hand to help direct a cross into the net but it was missed by officials.