WAYNE, Pa. — It was with the LA Galaxy where Carlos Ruiz first made a name for himself in the US.
Now that he’s a member of the Philadelphia Union, however, the Guatemalan striker isn’t as impressed with the team that gave him his first MLS opportunity, especially when it comes to this year’s version of the club.
“The Galaxy have great players that can make a difference, I have no doubt about that,” Ruiz told MLSsoccer.com. “But when they play as a team, they have a lot of mistakes.”
Ruiz and the Union welcome Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Juan Pablo Ángel and the rest of the star-studded Galaxy to PPL Park for a Wednesday night game (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick and MatchDay Live).
The Galaxy (4-2-4) are coming off an exciting 1-1 draw with the red-hot Red Bulls on Saturday night, and they currently sit in first place in the Western Conference with 16 points. But Ruiz is quick to point out they’ve played three more games than the Union (4-2-1), which could give the home team an advantage.
“From my point of view, LA Galaxy is in trouble right now,” said Ruiz, who played for LA from 2002-05 and again in 2008. “They’ve played more games than any other team. They are going to come here and try to do something about it, but we are in a better position than them. We’re going to try to play smart this game so we can be in first place in the East.”
The Union are coming off a 1-0 setback last Friday in Portland, one of the two losses they’ve had this season. The other came on April 2 vs. the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center as Philly fell 1-0, despite being up a man for most of the second half. The only goal came on a Leonardo header off a Beckham free kick.
After that game, Ruiz rued the Union’s missed chances and told MLSsoccer.com that the Galaxy aren’t “good like everyone thinks” and that they “don’t do anything spectacular.”
The 31-year-old striker backed up those claims leading up to Wednesday’s rematch.
“We didn’t play good against them [last time] and they also didn’t play good,” Ruiz. “They scored on a free kick. We’re going to try to do better things this game.”
Ruiz and the Union offense will need to be better as the team has scored just five goals through seven games. And even though Ruiz has scored two of them, he still hasn’t formed a cohesive attacking unit with the two players who made the Union offense tick in 2010: Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga.
For Ruiz, the all-time leading scorer in MLS postseason history, the drought is more about the club’s approach than their formation, which has been in flux.
“A lot of teams play with one forward and score a lot of goals,” Ruiz said. “It’s just how we play. It’s how we go forward, how we close the ball, how many people we put in the box. If we are smart, we have to understand it’s not how many forwards you have on the pitch, it’s the way you go forward.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.