FRISCO, Tex. – One of the youngest teams in MLS just added 21 years of professional experience its ranks.
Forward Carlos Ruiz, who turns 37 Thursday, is joining FC Dallas just two days after winning their first trophy in 19 years. It’s also a return for the man known as "El Pescadito" (The Little Fish) who played in for the club from 2005-07.
“He’s not coming to a team to make some money for the last team in the league,” FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo told MLSsoccer.com in reference to the signing. “He’s coming here to try and help this team with leadership, work, everything else he can, goals if that’s the case, to win a championship.”
Clavijo said the club has been looking to add somebody over the last couple of weeks, noting the team had a roster spot and cap space available. Given Maxi Urruti's streaky nature during his MLS career, the addition of veteran depth at the No. 9 position should not come as a surprise.
What may be surprising to many is why FC Dallas, a team known for relying on youth, decided to sign the player who was MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner in 2002. But it’s that experience that brought Ruiz to the forefront of the club's minds.
“Some of the things that come when we analyze players is how long it’s going to take them to adapt,” Clavijo said “How long these guys have been playing, how long it’d take him to adapt to the league, will he help us for 10 games? Five games? Seven? So when we go back and forth we look at Carlos, he scored two goals in Trinidad & Tobago qualifiers two weeks ago, then goes back and plays and scores five goals and is active.”
Ruiz’s experience with MLS competition, coupled with his recent five-goal performance in international play, made it an “easy decision,” per Clavijo, even if Urruti is playing well lately, including two goals in the team’s 4-2 U.S. Open Cup triumph over New England.
“You can see the quality of the work Maxi is doing for us, but then again, we need to be able to help him a little bit to play all these games and to be able to be active and with energy at the end of the year,” Clavijo said. “Anytime we can bring someone like that for us, it’s just a plus. It’s outstanding.”
Clavijo mentioned that head coach Oscar Pareja may have some tough decisions if Ruiz is fit and can challenge Urruti for playing time down the stretch. Clavijo said "El Pescadito" is also not coming just to sit on the bench.
Regardless of how much he plays over the team’s next seven games – five MLS and two CCL – ahead of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the team now has two veterans to consider at the top of their formation.
“He’s proven. He’s competitive. He wants to win championships,” Clavijo said. “And maybe retiring by winning a championship can be a good thing for everyone.”