I’ve been excited about Pablo Ruiz ever since he came to RSL as a 19-year-old in 2018. His first few years here were disappointing to say the least, but I always had hope for his future.
Now a 23-year-old established starter for RSL, Ruiz continues to impress me with his vision on the ball and his beautiful *chef’s kiss* left foot. I also had the amazing opportunity to talk to him three times last year on El Show RSL and would highly recommend you watch or listen (in Spanish) to the last interview he did with us in December reflecting on the 2021 season.
After his breakout 2020 season where he made his triumphant return after a loan spell with FC Pinzgau in Austria, Ruiz was a set in stone starter in 2021. He did have his ups and downs, but boy when he was playing well, it was incredible to watch him. I’d say my two favorite performances from him were the 1-0 home win against Seattle in September, and the 0-0 win (can I call it a win? I think I will) against the Sounders in the playoffs. Ruiz and Everton completely controlled the center of the field in those games, and it was beautiful to watch.
Ruiz also had two assists this year that I think demonstrate some of his best qualities. His first one was an inch perfect long ball to set up Kreilach. No wonder former RSL head scout Andy Williams took such a liking to him.
The other is a skill that Ruiz has developed more over the last few years as he’s settled into a defensive midfield role. Having grown up playing more of an attacking role in the midfield, Ruiz needs to continue to improve his defensive abilities, but this assist shows him assertively intercepting a ball and then providing a nice pass to Rusnak for the finish.
With recent reports claiming that Everton Luiz will be back with the Claret and Cobalt in 2022 on a new contract, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of that Ruiz/Luiz partnership this year. It’s hard to remember sometimes that Ruiz is only 23 years old with plenty of room to grow, and if he continues to grow as he has done over the last few years it would be safe to say that his 2022 will be a great year for the young Argentine.
On a side note, 2021 was not only a good year for Ruiz on the field, but he had the largest increase of Instagram followers out of any player in the league last year with a 1,091.21% follower increase according to the MLS Players Association. ¡Bien hecho Pablo!