By Justin D
As Kevin noted in his earlier entry, this is an incredible time to be a Philly fan. The top prize in NFL free agency, Nnamdi Asomugha, passed on Dallas and New York to come to Philly on a discount to become a champion. Some dude named Cliff Lee did the same thing last winter. On the same day, Ruben Amaro Jr. smugged his way into robbing Ed Wade again, filling what many consider the only hole on the best team in baseball by acquiring Hunter Pence to provide right-handed protection to Ryan Howard. And while these teams have gotten better, so too have the Union. In a bit of addition by subtraction, Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz is flopping his way out of town, reportedly because he could not handle the criticism of playing in Philly.
First of all let's take this as a compliment to just how intense we are as a fan base. The Little Fish has played in some pretty big ponds (T-Mac esque pun, sorry), representing Guatemala and holding the record for most international goals in that country's history. He has played for the Galaxy, the premier team in MLS, and in Mexico's Primera Division, known for the intensity of its fans. He has played in all those environments, and we were the ones to break this guy? We made him say "no mas?" Considering that the Union are the fifth team in this city and we pressured this guy into quitting, I'd say nobody can argue that Philly fans are the most passionate not only in America, but in the world.
And to be perfectly honest, this is a case where the fans have helped to make the team better. This isn't revisionist history; you can go back and look at my earlier entries, Carlos Ruiz never impressed me. Is he an elite talent? Sure. That doesn't mean he fits. I don't think I even mentioned the his name when discussing the team's successes, because he hasn't been vital to them. The skeptics will point out that Ruiz led the team with six goals, but finishing is just half of the equation. A vast majority of the time you can attribute a goal more to the great cross or the solid ball in than the actual finish itself. How many assists did Ruiz have this year. Zero. No assists. Sebastien Le Toux has seen his goal total fall substantially from 2010 (only two thus far), but couple that with his seven assists and he has been far more integral to the Union's success than Ruiz.
Also it is important to note that Ruiz leaving doesn't mean those six goals are leaving as well. Other players will now get more playing time, and they will now have the opportunity to prove themselves. Look for Danny Mwanga see the pitch more with Ruiz leaving and look for him to continue to shine; in 86 less minutes of playing time (basically a game's worth), he has five goals and three assists, and his dazzling speed juxtaposes nicely with Le Toux's precise passes. Guys like Justin Mapp, Kyle Nakazawa, and maybe even Jack McInerney will also get to see the field more, and with their combined efforts, Ruiz not only won't be missed, we'll be thankful he left. Gracias por todo, Pescadito, but you're not welcome here anymore.