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Ruiz leads Guatemala to semifinals

Just days after being cleared to play, Los Angeles Galaxy striker Carlos Ruiz scored two goals and set up a third as Guatemala rolled to a 3-1 victory Sunday against Suriname in the second leg of their FIFA World Cup qualifying series, winning the home-and-home series 4-2 on aggregate.

Guatemala advances to the 12-team semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying, which will consist of three groups of four teams each, to be played from Aug. 18 to Nov. 17 of this year.

At Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, Ruiz played in his first competitive match after recovering from an ankle injury that put him out of action for nearly a month. He opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a goal typical of "El Pescadito," slicing between defenders to head home a cross from the right and into the Suriname goal.

Although Guatemala struggled to maintain their superiority over the team from the country located on the mainland of South America, they doubled their lead through Dwight Pezzarossi in the second half, from a Ruiz pass from the left flank. Yet just when it had seemed Guatemala had secured passage to the semifinal round, Suriname pulled a goal back to tighten the aggregate score.

But once again it was the majesty of Ruiz, taking advantage of a defensive error by the Surinamese goalkeeper in the 80th minute to again provide the two-goal lead, shooting into the opposite corner and surprising the 'keeper with his powerful drive.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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