The folks at Toronto FC thought striker Carlos Ruiz had recovered from a season's worth of knee problems when they acquired him from the L.A. Galaxy last month, but now it looks like they thought wrong.
Ruiz, who sat out last Thursday's practice a day after having fluid drained from his right knee, spent this morning's practice on the sidelines, his knee bothering him once again. Last weekend he dealt with the discomfort and played 54 minutes in TFC's 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards. This morning, though, his knee didn't feel right, and though Ruiz couldn't pinpoint the problem he hoped an MRI scheduled for Tuesday afternoon could.
"It's hard to say (what's wrong)," Ruiz said. "I can tell you more tomorrow."
Ruiz' knee issues date back to last season at FC Dallas, with a torn meniscus and subsequent surgery. After moving to the L.A. Galaxy to start the season, Ruiz suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in the same knee in April, leading to another operation and sidelining him for more than two months.
A former league MVP, Ruiz recorded just three starts in 10 games with the Galaxy, scoring once.
But by late August he was healthy enough for the Galaxy to trade him to TFC, and his knee held up through his TFC debut at Chivas and three World Cup qualifiers. He even scored twice to lead Guatemala to a 4-1 win over Cuba.
Now, though, Ruiz wonders if his tender right knee can withstand such a heavy workload.
"Playing with the national team and playing here sometimes (the knee) is a little bit tired," he said.
If TFC wants Ruiz to survive the season they'll have to figure out how to manage his minutes in the coming weeks. In addition to league games the next two Saturdays -- on turf, no less! -- Ruiz has World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the 11th and 15th of October.
And let's remember that this is a player with chronic knee problems who is undergoing an MRI momentarily. If the examination yields bad news, TFC won't have to worry about managing his minutes.
They'll just have to figure out how to replace him.
-- Morgan Campbell