Guatemala legend and former MLS star Carlos Ruiz bid goodbye to international soccer on Tuesday night he only way he knew how – with a bang.
The 36-year-old forward – famous for his goalscoring prowess and infamous for his on-field antics – netted an incredible five goals in what was the final game of an outstanding 18-year international career to power Los Chapines to a 9-3 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines, even as they were eliminated from World Cup qualifying.
According to world soccer stats guru Mister Chip, the outburst also vaulted Ruiz (aka Pescadito – the little fish) into the international record books:
"Día histórico para el fútbol guatemalteco. Hoy dijo adiós a la selección Carlos Ruiz y lo hizo por la puerta grande, anotando 5 goles y batiendo el RÉCORD MUNDIAL del iraní Ali Daei para convertirse en el jugador con más goles (39 en 47 partidos) en toda la historia de las Eliminatorias para la Copa Mundial. El Pescadito se convirtió en el cuarto jugador de CONCACAF en anotar un repoker en Eliminatorias (tras Ian Lake, Rudis Corrales y Lesly St. Fleur) y se despide de la selección como uno de los 15 máximos goleadores de todos los tiempos en el fútbol internacional (68 goles) junto con Gerd Müller, Robbie Keane y el egipcio Hossam Hassan. Para cerrar una noche mágica, Guatemala volvió a marcar 9 goles en un partido, algo que la selección centroamericana no lograba desde el día que jugó precisamente el primer partido de su historia, hace 95 años (9-0 contra Honduras, el 14.09.1921). Ya eres ETERNO amigo Fish #GuatemalaPower"
If you don’t read Spanish, here’s a summary of Ruiz’s records after last night’s haul:
- Surpassed Iran’s Ali Daei to become the all-time leading scorer in men's World Cup qualifying across all confederations, with 39 goals in 47 games.
- Entered the top 15 on the list of all-time men’s international goalscorers with 68 goals for his country in 133 appearances – tied with another LA Galaxy star and recent international retiree, Robbie Keane, as well as German legend Gerd Muller and Egypt’s Hossam Hassan.
- Became the fourth player to score five goals in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match after Ian Lake (St. Kitts and Nevis), Rudis Corrales (El Salvador) and Lesly St. Fleur (Bahamas)
- Ruiz’s scoring outburst powered Guatemala to their biggest goal haul in 95 years. Los Chapines last scored nine goals on Sept. 14, 1921, in a 9-0 win against Honduras.
Ruiz spent a significant portion of his career in MLS, playing for the LA Galaxy, FC Dallas and Toronto FC in his most notable stint in the league, between 2002 and 2008. He also scored six goals in 14 appearances for the Philadelphia Union in 2011 and played 13 times for D.C. United in 2013.
In that time, Ruiz was named the 2002 MLS MVP after winning the Golden Boot in his first season in the league and was also the MLS Cup MVP as LA captured their first title. He currently sits 11th on the all-time regular season goalscoring charts with 88 goals, and his 16 all-time playoff goals are second only to Landon Donovan (25).