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One more look at the Ruiz deal
by Ridge Mahoney, August 22nd, 2008 5:45PM

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We all have our opinions about the Carlos-Ruiz-to-Toronto-so-Galaxy-can-sign-Eddie-Lewis deal, so here we go.

TFC fans may believe getting Ruiz for two picks and some cash is a steal, but so far down on the Galaxy pecking order had he fallen LA would have let him go for much less. San Jose, flush with cap space and allocation money, listened but didn't bite, eventually opting to obtain forwards Darren Huckerby (at the max: $335,000) and Scott Sealy ($34,729, now that's a steal!). Clubs in Guatemala listened but had no MLS mechanisms - draft picks, allocation money, salary-cap space, etc. - to offer in return and weren't interested in a transfer.

One can only assume TFC has a midfielder lined up to replace the transferred Maurice Edu and waived Laurent Robert, or there won't be sufficient supply for Ruiz and the other forwards on the roster. Amado Guevara hasn't gone ballistic lately, but he hasn't been slicing up defenses, either, and so much of the burden will fall on Rohan Ricketts and whatever runs right back Marvell Wynne can perform. Or, perhaps TFC will take its lumps from losing Edu, and apply the $500,000 payout from the Edu deal towards another roster revamp next year. (A lot of that money might have to go to Ruiz to buy down his $460,000 guaranteed compensation.)

How will Guevara and Ruiz get along? They should be able to find each other on the field, and just might find enough common ground of disgruntlement off the field as well.

Considering the LA pecking order includes honest but run-of-the-mill forwards like Alan Gordon, the clear word out of Home Depot Center is that a temperamental, sluggish malcontent had already outlived his stay well before the firing of Ruud Gullit and the hiring of Bruce Arena. This move, masterminded earlier this year by former GM Alexi Lalas, stripped the Galaxy of monies with which to bolster its rightfully maligned back line.

Ruiz may rebound north of the border yet cold weather and turf don't seem to be his favorite conditions. Come the next SuperDraft, believe it or not, if TFC doesn't make the playoffs, its first- and second-round picks will be valuable either for snagging college talent or, more likely, as trade bait. A few years ago, this trade would have been insane, but with Ruiz and Guatemala occupied by World Cup qualifying, TFC fans and management should hope and pray Guatemala doesn't advance to the Hexagonal. A 1-0 home loss to the U.S. Wednesday certainly helped.

FC Dallas believed a Ruiz unburdened by qualifying commitments would be focused, determined and productive. He scored 31 goals the previous three seasons, yet returned late from trips to Guatemala to play matches and engage in other activities, so management wasn't reluctant to let him go.

The wide-open spaces at HDC should suit Lewis' game, and like teammate David Beckham, much of his value lies in switching the point of attack during the run of play. The team has lacked reliable left-footed service, at least of the quality Lewis has displayed in the past. Once dubbed 'The American Beckham," a nickname he loathed, Lewis can certainly swing and swerve sweetly.

From the Galaxy perspective, this deal can't be evaluated until next year, when Arena's revamp of the roster comes into focus and the long-term implications of Lewis' salary as well as the "grandfathered" status of Donovan is either terminated or extended. Lewis and Donovan both grew up in Southern California and have been teammates on the national team for much of this decade, so the presence of Lewis may quiet fears of Donovan bolting for Europe (a remote possibility, at best), or waiving the no-trade clause in his contract to perhaps rejoin Frank Yallop in San Jose.

Who got the best of this deal? It's too soon to tell, but if both teams miss the playoffs, for the short-term at least, it's clearly a lose-lose.



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