Bryan Ruiz, the Costa Rican hotshot, is the name on American fans' lips after he said he might end up playing in MLS in 2015.
Fans of every team are reckoning that their sides should be the ones to sign him — after all, he's one of the best players from CONCACAF, and he's been playing at a high level for a number of years. He's been very good for Fulham since joining them, and he scored a few goals during his time.
Not an excessive amount, mind, with his strike rate about one in every seven matches. His assists are right around the same level. And even though he's playing in the Championship now, his English Premier League time showed he was more than capable at that level, and he also did particularly well in that World Cup thing.
For him to talk about coming to MLS now spells out some of the more exciting parts of this league. Yeah, he's a player from the region and Costa Ricans have sometimes done very well here (cough, cough, Alvaro Saborio), but he's a player that could make it in Europe without any trouble. Is he looking for a payday? Probably not, but who knows, right? Maybe he's looking to find a spot to play the next three or four years that won't have the uncertainty of promotion and relegation. Maybe he's just ready to be closer to home. (He did say he could also play in Scandinavia, so it's probably not that one.)
Whatever his rationale, MLS would be excited to have Ruiz at one of their 20 teams.
We think Real Salt Lake should be that team. Now, there are some fairly obvious reasons why that's the case, but let's spell them out anyway.
- Bryan Ruiz is good. Like, really pretty good.
- Bryan Ruiz is Costa Rican. Alvaro Saborio is Costa Rican. Maybe that's something we could form a connection around.
- Bryan Ruiz plays on the right flank frequently as an attacking midfielder. We just began a transition to a 4-3-3 (or something like it) and a great right-sided player wouldn't hurt. He and Sebastian Jaime or Joao Plata could be amazing on both flanks.
- Unbalancing the squad with a $1m-plus salary is a difficult proposition, and Ruiz would have to fully buy in to the system for it to work.
- RSL is well-stocked with forwards, even ones that can play out wide. Sebastian Jaime, Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia, and even Sebastian Saucedo are good options.
- Somebody out there probably has a discovery claim on Ruiz. (That's a little weird because, well, who didn't know about Ruiz in and around CONCACAF?) So in order to sign him, Real Salt Lake would have to negotiate for that. It's utterly ridiculous, honestly. (Maybe discovery claims can go by the wayside in the next CBA, yeah?)
- He wouldn't make the big splash here that he might elsewhere. That's not on us, that's on MLS — we'd just be getting another really good Costa Rican. Another team might be getting the star of their system.