...Isn't too bad if you're a Carlos Ruiz fan, and I assume he has a few of those in Toronto, even if he isn't scoring like he was six years ago.
After sitting out Tuesday's practice, Ruiz spent Thursday morning on the sideline pedalling a stationary bike while his teammates scrimmaged.
Two days ago he underwent an MRI scan that revealed no major damage to his chronically sore and (twice) surgically repaired right knee. Head coach John Carver said the scan found nothing more serious than a slightly misaligned kneecap, which he says Ruiz can correct within weeks, or even days, if he rehabs properly.
But Carver is sure that Ruiz, who is still sitting on 82 career goals, won't play on Saturday against the Houston Dynamo. He's confident Ruiz can return this season, but says the striker won't see the field in a game situation until he's 100 percent healthy.
Speaking of healthy, I'm enjoying the discussion that followed the previous post.
I understand how Ruiz' perceived lack of effort might turn off a lot of fans, but at this point this reporter is reserving judgment. Clearly Ruiz' knee isn't right these days. When it feels good he plays well -- witness his two goals against Cuba in World Cup qualifying -- but who knows if his knee will be pain-free this season?
For me, the issue isn't why TFC acquired him, because if you can add a big-name player to your roster while surrendering very little, you do it, even if that player appears to be a few years past the top of his game.
My issue is whether he was healthy when TFC acquired him.
Now, his knee issues are no secret. If TFC didn't know about the meniscus surgery last season, they surely knew about the MCL operation in April.
According to the folks at TFC, a medical exam is a mandatory part of any transaction. If you bring a player in, he has to pass a physical to make the transaction complete, and if you place him on waivers you give him another physical before he leaves the team.
Those are the rules, and Ruiz underwent a physical before suiting up for TFC against Chivas on Aug. 31. Clearly TFC was satisfied with the result or they would have voided the deal.
But just because the team was satisfied with the condition of Ruiz's knee doesn't mean Ruiz was fully healthy.
And again, it doesn't appear that anyone, Ruiz included, anticipated how Ruiz tender knee would react to daily training on turf, plus league games, plus national team duty.
I guess the sight of Ruiz on the sidelines, riding an exercise bike while everyone else prepares to play Houston, gives everyone their answer.
MORE MLS ISSUES
An interesting blog post arrived in my inbox this afternoon, via Soccer America Magazine.
According to the U.S. National Team Players' Association, there are 11 major issues facing Major League Soccer in the immediate future, and the Great White North is one of them:
8. Canada: Jingoism aside, Major League Soccer was developed to help improve the US National Team program. Though it's obvious that motivation has changed to reflect a sports league for its own sake, the push north has to be considered an issue.
Let's start with an easily dismissed point: it violates the FIFA ideal of one league per country. The exceptions are countries that can't support their own domestic league. Though Canada has a history of joining US clubs in every major team sport, it's an issue that so many potential Canadian cities are now expansion targets. Simply put, if that many are willing to buy in, why isn't there a Canadian first division?
First, for the Canadians reading that passage, there's no need to put the author's jingoism aside. Instead, accept it and move on. This blog comes from the players union of the U.S. national team, so expect its slant to favour Uncle Sam.
Second, the author's patriotism seems to have morphed into a mild case of xenophobia. Besides Toronto, three other Canadian cities (Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver) are interested in an MLS franchise, but how many of these bids does anyone really expect to succeed? One? Two at most? It's not like MLS will need a Canadian Conference any time soon.
And to address the author's point, even if there were four Canadian cities capable of supporting MLS franchises, that would hardly necessitate "Canadian First Division" separate from MLS. I mean who wants to watch the same teams face off week after week after week?
OK, CFL fans do, but this is soccer.
Finally, whoever writes this blog forgets that league rules force even Canadian teams to carry at least five U.S. players, meaning Major League Soccer's original mandate -- developing American players -- remains intact even when the league crosses borders.
As John Carver will point out in a few weeks when he loses a slew of players to World Cup qualifying, playing in Canada didn't stop Marvell Wynne from developing into a full U.S. international from an intriguing prospect.
The U.S. national team will prosper as long as MLS is thriving.
Even if it's north of the border.
-- Morgan Campbell