Chemistry has Ruiz proving his worth to Union


Monday, July 4, 2011
Posted: 10 a.m.

By Ryan Bright Contributor

When Carlos Ruiz was inked in late February, Peter Nowak and the Union wanted a finisher. They needed a consistent offensive threat and they envisioned a complimentary scorer to take some heat off of Sebastien Le Toux.

And while it took some time to come together, Ruiz, who has a goal in back-to-back games, is beginning to play the part.

It just took awhile.

Locked with Danny Mwanga for the team lead in goals with five, Ruiz has found chemistry up front with Le Toux, Sheanon Williams and the rest of the Union attacksomething desperately missing from the teams offensive third during the first quarter of the season.

This new-found synergy was evident on Saturday at RFK Stadium against D.C. United, when Ruiz, in the 60th minute, fired a header on a perfectly timed run into the box on a setup from Le Toux. It was saved, but it was a play drawn together out of experience and one that could only be made by familiar teammates. Despite the slight miss, the cohesion paid off in the 84th minute, when Le Toux hit a streaking Williams down the right side of the box. Williams centered to Ruiz, who read the play and edged his defender easily, depositing the game-tying goal and saving a result point for the Union, 2-2.

It was a great collective play, Ruiz said. It was a great run from Sheanon Williams and a great pass from Sebastien Le Toux. I think those were the crosses I was looking for all game in front of the goal. I had one with my head and the goalkeeper made a great save, but the goal with my foot was difficult for him. We tied the game and that is a good result at the end of the day for us.

More examples of Ruizs growing chemistry came on June 25 against Chivas USA. In the 58th minute, with the game tied at one, Williams from the top of the box, fired a low dribbler in the direction of Ruiz, who re-directed it in the goal, a perfect display of teamwork. The Fish, as hes called, was ruled offside and the score disallowed. However, just like on Saturday, Ruiz kept attacking. In the 69th minute, the striker took a long pass from midfield to the top of the box from Veljko Paunovic. Controlling the ball off his chest, Ruiz turned, fought off the defender and scored, giving the Union a 2-1 lead. They eventually won, 3-2.

Since returning from Guatemalan National Team Gold Cup duty, which caused him to miss three club games from June 4-18, Ruiz has helped the Union grab the Eastern Conference lead with 1-0-2 record in their last three games. In fact, when Ruiz scores, the Union are unbeaten, holding a 3-0-2 record.

Timely goals have also been Ruizs forte this season. Of his five goals, four have come in the 69th minute or later, helping the Union earn the never-say-die style of play.

The boys are still fighting so this is a good sign, said Nowak, with regards to his teams late-game heroics. After half of the season, it is good to be where we are right now. We see that games are very difficult and youve got to be prepared. The team is still behind us and it was the second game in a row where we came back and scored goals.

Despite his recent surge, Ruiz has been unable to shake transfer rumors spawning from Mexican publications and amplified by the blogosphere. With the July 15 MLS transfer window opening and the Union on record as saying they would like to add talent, Ruiz, in a logjam at the forward position with Mwanga, Jack McInerney, Le Toux and Paunovic, is an expensive commodity at a position of depth.

Yet, with his late-game swagger, budding chemistry and subsequent production, Ruiz is proving his worth and just starting to justify the expense. The kind of positive evolution that could give Nowak second thoughts about moving Fish to another pond.

E-mail Ryan Bright at

Related: Which Union player will represent the USA next?Bench role not limiting Union's Mwanga

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