Carlos Ruiz is one of the LA Galaxy’s all-time greats, but the team’s former striker is not doing much these days to ingratiate himself to the club’s current players.
“From my point of view, the LA Galaxy are in trouble right now,” Ruiz, who joined the Philadelphia Union this season, told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week.
Those comments are serving as fuel for the Galaxy, who face the Union on Wednesday night at PPL Park (7:30 pm ET, MatchDay Live).
“I’m not exactly sure where he’s getting that from but we’re happy to hear things like that,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant told MLSsoccer.com. “That only motivates us, and I think it will be interesting on Wednesday.”
Ruiz, of course, famously twice won the Golden Boot while playing for the Galaxy and scored the goal in the 2002 MLS Cup final that gave LA their first league title. He continues to present a challenge for defenders in MLS. He has two goals on the season for the Union.
“Carlos is one of those guys that’s always mixing it up and drawing fouls and putting a hurt on other guys,” Dunivant said. “He’s a guy who is a handful.”
However, the Galaxy handled Ruiz the first time they met this season. The Guatemalan international was unable to put a shot on goal in a 1-0 Galaxy win on April 2.
But the Union have other options. Attacker Sebastien Le Toux, who struck 14 goals in 2010, has just one goal on the season, but his willingness to make consistent runs into the attack make him dangerous still. Dunivant remembers a particular play in the clubs’ last meeting that exemplified the threat Le Toux presents.
“[On a Union free kick], he started on the left wing, ran across the back line — this is all before they took the free kick — ran across over to my side on their right and they still hadn’t taken the free kick,” Dunivant recalled. “Then he sprinted back to the other side. He’s active. He’s got a big engine and he’s always moving.”
The Galaxy had a somewhat comfortable victory over the Union in the first match. Despite playing with 10 men for most of the second half, LA did not concede a shot on goal. But the Union are undefeated at home, with a 3-0-1 record. They have conceded only one goal in those four matches.
“Philadelphia is one of those teams that plays really well at home,” Dunivant said. “They’ve got a good crowd, they do a good job of getting up for those games. It’s a tough place to play but we’ve been a good road team and we pride ourselves on that. Coming into a hostile environment is something we enjoy and we kind of thrive off.”