With a tenure that predates even Major League Soccer's first game, legendary forward Carlos Ruiz is calling it a career.
The Guatemalan revealed to LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano on Friday that he has officially retired, with his sights set on working in broadcasting and setting up a youth soccer academy.
“I think in soccer that you have to know when you have to retire. I still love this game and that’s why I’m talking on television to help Americans understand and love the game like I do. We still have work to do and I’m still in the game," Ruiz said, in Serrano's story on the announcement. "I’m also going to try to open a soccer academy because I want to try and reach kids, but after 23 years as a professional, I’m done. Only time will judge if I did well or well not, but I feel like I did everything in every game I played.”
Ruiz, 37, debuted as a first-team professional in 1995, as a 16-year-old, for Guatemalan powerhouse Municipal. After reaching adulthood with the club, he moved on to MLS, playing for the LA Galaxy (2002-04, '08), FC Dallas ('05-07, '16), Toronto FC ('08), Philadelphia Union ('11), and D.C. United ('13) in a long and varied career. He won the regular-season and MLS Cup Most Valuable Player awards in 2002, while also taking the Golden Boot that season with 24 goals. The next year, Ruiz tied for the MLS Golden Boot, and was named an MLS All-Star.
The striker, as well known to MLS — and CONCACAF — audiences for his feisty demeanor and desire to win at all costs as for his scoring ability, won MLS Cup and the Supporters' Shield with the Galaxy in 2002. Ruiz closed his career with more hardware, this time signing for FC Dallas (in September 2016) to make a single appearance off the bench in MLS regular season league play, scoring a vital goal in Week 33 to help Dallas land their first-ever Shield. In addition, he won the 2013 U.S. Open Cup as a member of D.C. United.
Away from MLS, Ruiz also played for Municipal (winning two league titles with them in Guatemala), in Paraguay for Olimpia, in Mexico for Puebla and Veracruz, and in Greece for Aris, before returning to Municipal in 2014.
Ruiz also had a legendary career for the Guatemalan national team, making his debut in 1998 and finishing as his country's top scorer, with 68 goals in 133 appearances. Despite never qualifying for the World Cup, Ruiz helped lead Guatemala to quarterfinal appearances at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2007 and 2011. In recent years, Ruiz used his position as the elder statesman of the national team to help advocate for change within the Guatemalan FA, a process that is still ongoing.
In all, across 10 seasons in MLS, Ruiz scored 89 goals in 183 MLS regular season appearances. The man nicknamed "El Pescadito" (the little fish) owned one of the most distinctive personalities in MLS history, and more often than not backed it up with his play on the field.