SEATTLE (AP) — With defender Kelvin Leerdam on the field, the Seattle Sounders might have a new offensive threat.
Leerdam and Raul Ruidiaz both scored in the first eight minutes, lifting the Sounders to a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.
A veteran from the Netherlands, Leerdam had five assists but no goals in 26 games last season. He now has two goals in the first two games this year.
“You always have those kind of opportunities as a fullback or a winger, even if you’re playing against a real winger,” Leerdam said. “As a soccer player, when you’re young, you always want to score goals. That’s what you play soccer for. That’s what you dream of as a little boy, to score goals and have fun.”
The Sounders (2-0-0) have won their opening two regular-season contests for the first time since 2012.
Leerdam put Seattle on the board in the fifth minute with his second goal of the year. Brad Smith, playing on the left side of the penalty area, sent the ball in toward the goalmouth. A point-blank shot by Nicolas Lodeiro was kicked away, but only as far out as the penalty spot. Leerdam was right there and drove it into the back center of the net.
“I don’t know who shot it first, but I tried to position myself for the rebound because the ball was going twice or three times on goal,” Leerdam said. “I had to track the ball, and when it came on my line, I shot. Luckily, it went in, and we were up.”
In the eighth minute, Ruidiaz took a long through ball from Lodeiro at the top of the box. He sent it toward the left side to Victor Rodriguez, who passed it back toward the penalty spot. Ruidiaz shot it into the upper center beyond the reach of goalkeeper Tim Howard for his second of the year.
Ruidiaz joined Seattle midway through last season from Morelia of Liga MX, and wound up leading the team in scoring with 10 goals in just 14 games.
“That was a pretty impressive opening 10 minutes,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. “They were up for the game, they played fast, and the quality of the game, the quality of some of our play was tremendous. I did think we would get a goal. (Rapids coach) Anthony Hudson has a good team, and his team didn’t quit. But I thought we could get at least one more.”
Colorado, which scored deep in second-half stoppage time last week to salvage a 3-3 season-opening tie against Portland, dropped to 0-1-1.
“It really killed us in the first 15 or 20 minutes,” Rapids coach Hudson said. “Beyond that, it was the basics: They were first to the second balls, and they were just a lot more aggressive in that period.
“Toward the end of the game, we brought a third striker and a fourth striker, and the players kept trying to push for a goal,” Hudson added. “We had some chances. But certainly, to come to a place like this against a team like this, if you start slow and a little bit passive, it’s very tough to get back in the game.”
Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei picked up his first shutout of the year. Seattle has allowed just one goal in their first two games.
With all he has done at the front end of the field so far, Leerdam has played just as a big a role at the other end.
“The thing we say to all of our outside backs is we love it when you get forward,” Schmetzer said, “but remember that you’re a defender first.”