An MLS team brings in a striker from Mexico, paying a $6.7 million transfer fee. The striker combines effectively with a left-footed playmaking midfielder to spark the offense. Then, the team adds a final piece by signing a left back with Premier League experience.
Those have been key elements of the formula Bruce Arena has employed in reviving the New England Revolution.
Coincidentally, Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey has used a similar approach in placing the finishing touches on a team that will play in the MLS Cup final for the third time in four years. In 2019, the Revolution added midfielder Carles Gil and forward Gustavo Bou, then recently signed former Manchester United left back Alex Buttner.
Lagerwey’s Sounders combined Peruvian Raul Ruidiaz, a $7 million transfer from Morelia, with Uruguayan Nicolas Lodeiro . The left back is Brad Smith, formerly of Liverpool, on loan from Bournemouth.
Lagerwey, 46, played goalkeeper for the Kansas City Wiz, Dallas Burn, and Miami Fusion, and he has proved to be among the league’s most effective executives. After retiring as a player in 2001, Lagerwey got his start in broadcasting, commentating alongside Brad Feldman on Revolution games while attending Georgetown Law School.
In the last 11 years, Lagerwey’s teams — Real Salt Lake and the Sounders — have reached five MLS Cup finals. RSL won the 2009 MLS Cup title, defeating Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy, and lost to Sporting Kansas City in the ’13 final.
The Sounders met Toronto FC in 2016 and ’17, winning the first, and will be rematched with the Reds in Seattle on Sunday.
The Sounders scrapped their way to the title in 2016, failing to register a shot on goal, then winning on penalty kicks following a 0-0 draw. The next year, Toronto FC took a 2-0 victory, the Sounders getting two shots on goal — by Clint Dempsey and Joevin Jones.
This season, the Sounders had to be resourceful in finishing second in the Western Conference, 16 points behind Los Angeles FC. The Sounders scored 52 goals, tied for 11th in the league. Ruidiaz totaled 11 goals and Jordan Morris had 10, both players limited by injury and national team absences. But in three playoff games, Ruidiaz and Morris have both converted three times and the Sounders have outscored opponents, 9-4.
In the conference final, the Sounders took a 3-1 win over LAFC, which entered the match with a 15-2-3 home record in all competitions. Lodeiro set up Ruidiaz for two goals and converted once as the Sounders became only the second away team in two years to total three goals at LAFC.
Ruidiaz, who stands 5 feet, 7 inches, can be a deceptively effective scorer at the club level (160 career goals).
With Peru’s national team, Ruidiaz is listed with only four goals in 40 appearances. One of those came in a 1-0 victory over Brazil in the Copa Centenario at Gillette Stadium in 2016, when Ruidiaz literally punched a shot past goalkeeper Alisson.
Ruidiaz had no hesitation admitting the offense afterward, but also no regret as the Peruvians eliminated Brazil from the competition, which led to the firing of manager Dunga and a rehauling of the Seleção.
Murray saves career
Former Revolution goalkeeper Tim Murray nearly gave up on soccer after playing for the Carolina RailHawks in 2013. But Murray, 32, revived his career with a move to Ekenas SC in Finland’s second division in 2015, and now is preparing to play in the Europa League with FC Honka. Murray, a Globe All-Scholastic at St. John’s Prep before performing at Providence College, was with the Revolution for three years (2010-12), then spent two seasons in the USL and two years out of the game.
Honka’s 1-0 win over Mariehamn in a Europa League playoff was Murray’s 11th shutout in 29 games. Murray even produced an assist on a goal by former Colorado Rapids forward Mac Kandji in a late-season victory.
Murray, who stands 6 feet 3 inches, recently signed a year extension with Honka, according to his agent, David-Ross Williamson.
Tottenham forward Son Heung-Min had plenty of reasons to feel confused after the Spurs played to a 1-1 tie with Everton on Sunday. First, Son was cautioned for a slide tackle on Andre Gomes, who caught a cleat and sustained an ankle fracture dislocation. After referee Martin Atkinson noted the severity of the injury, he red-carded Son, who, along with others getting an up-close look at Gomes, appeared to be extremely distraught. Son then burst into tears as he was accompanied to the locker room.
On Tuesday, Son’s red card and three-match suspension were overturned by an independent regulatory commission. Son is listed on Tottenham’s roster for a Champions League visit to Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday and will be eligible for a Premier match against Sheffield Saturday.
Busy time of year
First-place Liverpool plays host to Manchester City on Sunday in a match that could go far in determining the Premier League title. Liverpool (10-0-1, 31 points) has a 6-point edge over the Citizens (8-2-1, 25 points).
Things could become difficult for Liverpool starting next month as the Reds are scheduled to play 11 games in three countries on two continents from Dec. 4-Jan. 4.
Liverpool will have two games in two days – in the League Cup against Aston Vila on Dec. 17 and in the semifinals of the Club World Cup in Qatar on Dec. 18. Liverpool will field two different squads – mostly youth team players against Villa and first-teamers in Qatar.