Photo by ISIPhotos.com
Carlos Ruiz does two things very well. Score goals and annoy opposing teams’ players and fans.
From his days as a goal-scoring machine for the LA Galaxy (he led them to the 2002 MLS Cup title), to his brief stint as an enigmatic striker for FC Dallas, Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union, Ruiz compiled an impressive 88 goals in MLS.
Unfortunately, Ruiz is remembered as much for his diving and dirty play as for his goals during that time, which is why he has developed a reputation as goal-scoring villain by American soccer fans.
The same goes for his time with the Guatemalan national team. His country’s all-time leading goal scorer, Ruiz has appeared more than 100 times for Guatemala, and has scored more than 50 goals (including four during the current qualifying cycle). The cagey striker is always a threat in the penalty area, and he’s also always a threat to aggravate his opponents. His questionable antics even led U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard to call him an ‘A__-hole” after the 2008 qualifying meeting between the two (a match that saw Ruiz ‘inadvertently’ knee Howard in the head).
On Tuesday, Ruiz will be at it again. Working to get under the skin of American defenders, while also trying to position himself to score. He is Guatemala’s best hope for a win, or even a draw because he is a constant threat to score, and he is tricky enough to cause problems for U.S. centerbacks Geoff Cameron and Carlos Bocanegra.
Guatemala has other attacking weapons, most notably Marco Pappa, who scored the goal that earned his team the 1-1 draw vs. the U.S. in June, but Ruiz’s penchant for delivering in big games makes him the player most likely to find the net against the Americans on Tuesday night.
It will be up to Cameron and Bocanegra to not only keep tabs on him in the run of play, but also mark him tightly on set pieces or risk having him score like he did to beat Jamaica last Friday.
What do you think of Ruiz? Are you a fan of his game, or did you grow to hate him during his time in MLS? Think the U.S. defense can keep him contained?
Share your thoughts below.