"El Pescadito" is back.
The Philadelphia Union took a major step to improving an offense that was one of the worst in the league last season by announcing on Tuesday that they have signed former MLS MVP and two-time Golden Boot winner Carlos Ruiz on a free transfer from Greek club Aris FC.
The polarizing 31-year-old Guatemalan forward returns to MLS after two years abroad, in which he also spent time with Olimpia of Paraguay and Puebla of Mexico’s Primera División.
Ruiz is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking 2002 season, his first in MLS, in which he scored 24 goals for the LA Galaxy and won the MVP and Golden Boot awards en route to helping LA to their first MLS Cup title. Ruiz scored eight goals during that postseason, still a record in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
He shared the scoring title again a year later when he tied Taylor Twellman with 15 tallies.
The Guatemala City native has also spent time with FC Dallas and Toronto FC, as well as a second brief stint with the Galaxy in 2008. Over six seasons in MLS, Ruiz bagged 82 goals and 17 assists. He currently stands as the 10th-highest goal-scorer in league history (third among active players) and is the all-time leading scorer in MLS postseason history with 16 tallies.
Ruiz has continued to be a threat since leaving MLS in January of 2009, scoring a combined 30 goals for Olimpia, Puebla and Aris. He is also the all-time leading scorer in Guatemalan national-team history with 41 goals in 86 appearances for los Chapines.
The Union hope they’ll get that kind of output from El Pescadito. Though Sebastien Le Toux bagged 14 goals in Philadelphia’s debut season – tied for fourth in the Golden Boot race – the team only managed 35 total goals in 2010, the sixth-worst mark in the league.
The tandem of Ruiz and second-year man Danny Mwanga would give the Union a major upgrade up front and a headache for opposing defenses. Ruiz will also reunite with Philadelphia captain Danny Califf, a teammate of his with the Galaxy in 2002.
Ruiz will join up immediately with the Union, who are, coincidentally, making a 16-day preseason training excursion to Greece. He will be eligible to play for Philadelphia pending receiving his International Transfer Certificate. Per MLS and club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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