Philadelphia Union won't underestimate former cast-offs Lionard Pajoy, Carlos Ruiz

Lionard Pajoy with D.C. United

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

CHESTER, Pa. – It’s been no secret that former Philadelphia Union strikers Carlos Ruiz and Lionard Pajoy have struggled to generate very much offense for D.C. United so far season.

But Union manager John Hackworth believes that means very little heading into Sunday’s nationally televised clash between Philly and D.C. at RFK Stadium (5 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).

“When you look at Lio, he’s been really good against us,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “He’s had some frustrations this year and that’s a little scary because a player of his quality could be due.

“Carlos is the same way. He came in and is slowly ramping up. I expect him to play a big role on Sunday and he’ll be motivated. You have to prepare for those guys.”

The Union know both players very well.

READ: McInerney says Union's chemistry will take a while "if we keep switching" the lineups

Pajoy came to Philly at the beginning of last season and was used as the club’s No. 1 striker until he was traded to D.C. for Danny Cruz in August. A month later, the 31-year-old Colombian scored against Philly in a 1-0 D.C. United win at PPL Park.

And Ruiz – the famous Guatemalan who starred in MLS from 2002 to 2008 – played for the Union for the first part of the 2011 season before being transferred to the Mexican club Veracruz that August. He returned for his third stint in MLS this past February.

Hackworth noted that it could help that the Union are familiar with both players, but Philly right back Sheanon Williams cautioned against reading too much into that.

“Obviously we know some of their tendencies but that doesn’t mean we can lock them down for the whole game,” Williams said. “That’s obviously the objective but things happen during the course of the game. They’re good players so they’re going to find ways to get behind us and do things to disrupt our defense.”

READ: Danny Cruz "loves everything" about Union-United rivalry

Williams added that even though both players had short-lived and mostly disappointing tenures in Philly, that’s not indicative of their talents. Neither are their slow starts to the 2013 season in D.C.

“They’re both guys that we liked in the locker room,” Williams said. “And on the field, they’re hard to play against. Pajoy does a lot of the hard work and the running and finding different channels to get the ball. And Carlos is a big body that holds the ball up extremely well. So they are definitely two challenges.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.