L.A.'s Ruiz ready to play in qualifier

Los Angeles Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz departed on Tuesday night for Guatemala to represent that country's national team in a second round FIFA World Cup Qualifying match against Surinam on the weekend, the club announced Wednesday.

"We are extremely pleased to announce that Carlos Ruiz is ready to play and will be joining the Guatemalan National Team for his country's important World Cup Qualifier this weekend," said Galaxy president and general Manager Doug Hamilton. "We would like to commend Carlos on his outstanding work ethic in rehabilitating so quickly from such a severe injury to return to play for the Galaxy and Guatemala. In addition, his return to action means Galaxy fans can now look forward to seeing him back with his club for the first time next week against the MetroStars at The Home Depot Center."

The third-year striker played in a closed-door scrimmage for the club Tuesday morning against German side Hannover 96 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. It was the 24-year-old's first action in a Galaxy uniform since severely spraining his right ankle in 1-1 tie against the Colorado Rapids in an MLS match on May 15.

"Carlos has progressed very well in his rehab is now about at the eighty-five percent mark in terms of being back to full health and is capable of playing some of his first minutes this weekend," said L.A. Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid. "Since there is an important World Cup Qualifier, Guatemala has called him in for their second-leg match against Surinam. Hopefully, he will get to play some minutes in Guatemala this weekend and then return to us ready for our second game with the MetroStars on Wednesday at home."

Ruiz joins Guatemala after they played to the Surinamese to a 1-1 tie as visitors in the first leg of the aggregate goals series on Saturday in Paramaribo. The two nations will play the return leg in Guatemala City on Sunday. Should they win the series, the Guatemalans will advance to one of the two semifinal groups in the CONCACAF region.

Carlos Ruiz is currently tied atop MLS scoring leaders with teammate Alejandro Moreno and Damani Ralph of the Chicago Fire, with six goals and two assists for a total of 14 points thus far in 2004. The Guatemalan led the league in goals scored in each of his first two campaigns stateside, registering 24 in his rookie season while leading the Galaxy to the 2002 MLS Cup championship and adding 15 more a season ago.

He is the only player to lead MLS in goal scoring in each of his first two seasons in the League. Additionally, he was named MLS Player of the Month in April 2004 after registering five goals and one assist.

The Los Angeles Galaxy are pleased to announce that their match against the MetroStars on Wednesday, June 23 will be the next chance this season for fans to purchase a Los Angeles Times Galaxy Family Pack. For as a little as $52, a family of four gets four match tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas and a Los Angeles Times newspaper. To take advantage of this offer, please call the Galaxy ticket office toll-free at 1-877-3GALAXY.


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