Ruiz-Johnson already paying dividends
The newly formed FC Dallas strike partnership of Carlos Ruiz and Eddie Johnson both contributed in the club's season-opening victory against the Chicago Fire last weekend.
Yet in the post-match analysis, the new-look three-pronged attack of the two with Ronnie O'Brien wasn't clicking on all cylinders. So what did FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke do this week? He gave them a few days off.
The duo were certainly battling fatigue and jet lag after playing in two World Cup qualifiers -- one home and one away -- in the week leading up to the season opener. For Ruiz it was even more difficult, after he was traded from the Los Angeles Galaxy to FC Dallas while he was away with the Guatemalan national team.
Ruiz received immediate attention in the victory against the Fire, as he was fouled 22 seconds into the match.
But then in just his second minute with the team, the addition of he and another veteran in the offseason -- midfielder Richard Mulrooney -- paid off when they combined to give Dallas a lead. Ruiz assisted by flicking a header onto to the unmarked Mulrooney, who then buried a right-footed blast past the diving Zach Thornton.
"What a great start for the boys, Carlos got the assist, and Richard after two minutes in the game gets the goal for FC Dallas," said Simo Valakari.
"For those boys I felt very happy. Richard is an incredible player; we all know what Carlos is about, his presence, you can't leave him alone at all -- he will sneak in a goal, he is a dangerous and complete player. He can hold the ball, he is good for us."
Heading into this weekend's match against the Colorado Rapids in Denver, the strike duo is looking to build on their relationship to ensure both are on the same page.
"Well, I talked to Eddie and told him I am a good teammate, and (we) work together and take our wins for Dallas," Ruiz said.
Added Johnson: "It's good, it takes the pressure off me -- it's tough to defend two good guys that can sniff the goal out."
Playing against the deadly duo can be very intimidating given the fact that the two can score goals in mass volumes individually, let alone as a pair.
"If I were to play against those guys I would be a little bit scared, because they can play all around the field," said Valakari. "The system we play gives them freedom to go wherever they want, and those boys can score goals."
This weekend will find a real test when FC Dallas face the Rapids, who last year had one of the toughest defenses in the league, backstopped by MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Joe Cannon.
"We were the only team that got a win in our division, and we are off to an excellent start," Valakari said.
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.