Ruiz has 'em buzzing

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

Carlos Ruiz has spent so much time in an airplane the past week that, on his first day of training with his new Toronto FC teammates, he had to ask more than once where exactly he was.

"I had just flown from (Los Angeles) to Guatemala, then back to L.A., then to Toronto," he said yesterday at BMO Field, where he has landed after TFC traded a pair of Major League Soccer draft choices to get him from the Los Angeles Galaxy. "When I arrived (Tuesday), the team put me right on a bus for a two-hour ride to who knows where."

Actually, it was to the Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood, but the 28-year-old striker can be forgiven if the surroundings were unfamiliar.

"I didn't know where I was," he said. "I had to ask some of the guys."

In the three days since, Ruiz has learned a lot about his new team, his new city and his new coaches.

"Toronto is a fantastic city," he said. "I wanted to come here."

There were rumours that Ruiz, nicknamed "El Pescadito" (Little Fish) would have preferred that the Galaxy trade him elsewhere, but yesterday Ruiz put that story to rest.

He said that, yes, he was surprised by the trade, but he was not disappointed that it was to Toronto

"I was a little bit surprised, because I was back in Guatemala playing for my country against the U.S., and that was all that was on my mind," he said of the day the trade was announced.

"But I talked to my agent when I got back to L.A., and there were other offers -- I think from Chivas, Salt Lake and Cleveland -- but I told him I wanted to play in Toronto."

Ruiz also said it has long been his wish to play with TFC's star forward Amado Guevaro. He even had lobbied to get Guevaro traded to Dallas when he was with that club.

"Of course, it was good that Amado was already here. He is a very skilled player and I wanted to play with him," Ruiz said.

TFC coach John Carver couldn't be more delighted at the skill level and attitude that Ruiz has brought to the team.

"He has given a lift to the whole team. I could see it the last few days of training," Carver said. "Everybody seems to have an extra bounce in their step."

Carver is hoping that Ruiz can kickstart the club's anemic offence with a few goals with just nine games remaining on the schedule.

TFC is in a fight for the eighth and final playoff spot and sorely needs Ruiz to perform up to the level he has in the past where he's notched 82 goals in 150 MLS games.

TFC captain Jim Brennan said he is certain that the addition of Ruiz will be the difference-maker in the team making or missing the playoffs.

"He is a quality player. We knew that even before he arrived," Brennan said. "The last couple of days of training (with him) have been fantastic."

As far as Ruiz goes, he said he likes feeling the pressure of being thrust into such a starring role. He even urged the Guatemalan community in Toronto to come out and support his new team.

"I think it is important that Latin fans come out and support Latin players," he said. "There are nine games left. I want to make an impact and I want to be able to score some goals."

Ruiz's first chance to show his stuff comes tomorrow night (10:30 p.m. EDT) at Carson, Calif., when TFC takes on Chivas USA in the front end of a home-and-home series.


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