Why sign him?
“I have always liked what he is about – an absolute monster of a competitor,” Coach Ben Olsen said Wednesday night following his club’s 1-1 preseason draw with the Philadelphia Union in Deltona, Fla.
Ruiz, 33, became available after falling out of favor with Mexican club Veracruz last year. His most recent activity was with Guatemala’s national team, scoring five goals in four World Cup qualifiers last fall, including an early strike against the United States in the decisive group finale won by the Americans in Kansas City, Kan.
“When you see how he played in qualifying,” General Manager Dave Kasper said, “the guy can still play — and he can score goals.”
United acquired Ruiz through the MLS allocation process. Sixteen clubs passed before United claimed him. He signed a one-year guaranteed contract. Terms were not disclosed but a salary between $125,000 and $150,000 would seem to make sense, given his experience and age.
Ruiz has permanent residency in the United States and will not count against the international limit. United has two foreign slots available, Kasper said. Canadian midfielder Kyle Porter, who converted a second-half penalty kick Wednesday, seems poised to receive a contract and fill an international position.
Panamanian midfielder Marcos Sanchez is also vying for a spot. Another trialist, Honduran attacker Walter Martinez, has permanent residency and would count as a domestic player, should the club decide to sign him. Roster decisions are expected this week.
Ruiz joins a frontline corps that includes Dwayne De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy, Rafael and Casey Townsend.
“We will get Carlos fit and see where he is,” said Olsen, who expects Ruiz to arrive Thursday. “We’ll take our time. We have that luxury because we have good attacking pieces. He is just another one we hope can fit and get us maybe to another level from an attacking standpoint.”
As for Ruiz’s reputation…..
“I had a reputation! What’s his reputation?”
“I would say his reputation is, first and foremost, a guy no one wants to play against. I never wanted to see him on the other side. What does he have left? We’ll see. I’m excited to have him. I have known Carlos for a long time and I know he is going to fit in and make sure he is a positive influence.”
Beyond what United believes Ruiz could deliver on the field, he should help at the box office. United had its lowest attendance figure in club history last season. Washington’s Guatemalan community is not as large as the Salvadoran one but is sizable — and Ruiz remains popular among compatriots back home and living in the United States.
Video of a goal in qualifying last fall: