Carlos Ruiz, who has played for four different MLS teams, appears to be heading back to MLS, reportedly agreeing to a contract with the Philadelphia Union. (via upload.wikimedia.org)

Carlos Ruiz Officially Signs With Philadelphia Union

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Philadelphia Union Announce Signing Of Carlos Ruiz

Carlos Ruiz, the 10th leading scorer in MLS history, has officially signed with the Philadelphia Union, marking his return to the league after two years abroad. Ruiz, who won the MVP and Golden Boot while leading the Los Angeles Galaxy to the MLS Cup in his inaugural MLS season, has scored 82 goals and registered 17 assists over six seasons. He will most likely play forward alongside Danny Mwanga in the Union's 4-4-2, with Sebastian Le Toux likely moving back to the midfield.

Ruiz has spent the last two years playing with Paraguay's Olimpia (not to be confused with the Honduran power), Mexico's Puebla and, most recently, Greece's Aris. Ruiz joins the Union on a free transfer from Aris. During 15 matches with Aris this year, Ruiz scored just one goal in 15 league matches, but scored three goals in Europa League competition.

At times during his MLS tenure, Ruiz was one of the most dangerous players in the league. In addition to his 24-goal, seven-assist debut season, he scored at least 11 goals in four of his five other seasons. But his final year in the league did not go so well. He switched teams twice and scored just one goal in 15 matches.

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Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Union Agree To Contract, Report Says

MLS fans certainly remember Carlos Ruiz, the man not so affectionately known as "Pescadito." The positive or negative nature of those memories is probably closely tied to whether or not he was playing for their team, as the only thing for which he was better known than scoring goals was his penchant for embellishing fouls (hence the nickname). Either way, it appears MLS fans will once again familiarize themselves with both sides of his reputation as Philly.com is reporting he has already signed with the Philadelphia Union.

The official announcement will reportedly come this week, and Ruiz is reported to have already begun training with the team. The Union just returned to Philadelphia from Orlando and are heading to Greece on Wednesday, where they'll be until March 10. It would stand to reason that the Ruiz announcement would come as soon as Tuesday.

The 31-year-old last played in MLS in 2008 when he scored just one goal in 15 matches for the Los Angeles Galaxy and Toronto FC. He has spent the last two seasons with Paraguay's Olimpia and Puebla of the Mexican Primera, where he scored a combined 19 goals in 51 matches. He's been playing for Aris of the Greek league since August and has scored one goal in 15 matches.

While Ruiz's recent performances have not been quite up to his standards, it's the player that dominated MLS from 2002-05 that the Union are undoubtedly hoping returns. During his first stint in MLS, Ruiz scored 50 goals in 72 matches over three seasons, including a Golden Boot-winning campaign during his inaugural season with the Galaxy. That year, he scored 24 regular season goals to win the league MVP. He followed that up with a MLS record eight goals during the Galaxy's six-match run to the MLS Cup championship.

Ruiz never quite lived up to that standard during any of his subsequent six MLS seasons, but proved a consistent double-digit scorer. He also managed to wear out his welcome in LA, Dallas and Toronto, who all parted ways with him on less-than-ideal terms.

With the Union, it's not entirely clear how he'd fit into the team. The Union already have promising forward Danny Mwanga and Sebastian Le Toux, who's coming off a near-MVP caliber season. It's hard to imagine Ruiz comes cheap or that the Union would bring in a player of his caliber just to come off the bench. His past issues also make it hard to picture him as a mentor type.

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