As for Ruiz, he used "Union Meeting" to set the record straight after practice Wednesday:
Union Meeting: You were absent from the team's lineup last week in San Jose. The technical staff said it was because you needed a rest. Did you agree with this idea?
Carlos Ruiz: It was the coaching staff's idea, and it was good. I got a chance to relax and recharge my batteries. Now I am ready to play the second half of the season.
(Note: Ruiz has logged 360 minutes of a total 1,071 this season since returning from Gold Cup duty with Guatemala at the end of June.)
UM: How annoying is it week in and week out to see your name in the Mexican press stating your desire to leave this club?
CR: To be honest with you, I never read anything on the Internet, and I try to be away from what the media says, but, honestly, this thing about me leaving Philadelphia has gotten crazy. I don't know who has started this gossip, but I am going to say this again: I am not moving anywhere, I am very happy in Philly, all my family is coming in 2 weeks to stay with me, so this is not a chance to leave this city."
UM: The report from [D Poder A Poder] says it's actually your family that's not thrilled with the idea of coming here. What do you say to that?
CR: Well, they must know something I don't. I don't have any problems [with being] here. My girlfriend is from the United States, so she's more than happy to live in the States. I mean, this all just gossip. Seriously, ask yourself why would I want to play for some second-division team in Mexico when I have all my family coming and things are going great here in Philly? If that was the case and my only option . . . then there really is no chance for me.
UM: With the second half of the season it's imperative that the offense really start to gel and take shape, because cohesion is paramount going forward; would you agree?
CR: Yes, but it's going to be hard. You know, after the All-Star Game, it's a different season for everybody. We have to try to be better, I think the last couple of games, we are a much better team on offense. We've been creating opportunities and scoring more than one goal. That, in itself, is progress that we have to keep going and we have the players here that can do so.
UM: What do you like about being here in Philly, in terms of the people, ambience, etc.?
CR: The best years of my career were playing in Major League Soccer. Here, I have a chance to continue that with teammates and a coaching staff I respect. In the beginning, coming here, it was a little different, because it was the East Coast and I'm not really familiar with the East Coast. Plus, it's really cold here in winter, but I like it here. I am trying to show why I am here and that I respect the people here, our fans. I hope they see that every time I step on the field, I play to win. I am a winner, and I came here to win the championship of this league. That is the only thing on my mind right now."
POSITIVE RIVER FLOW
Tonight is the first River Cup at PPL Park, the culmination of an idea by the Sons of Ben brass to get a chance to play on the Union's vast pitch. What originally was supposed to be a pickup game blossomed into a full field, 60-minute match featuring the Sons of Ben elite and members of the Union front office and technical staff.
Yours truly is serving as a guest player for the SOB team. How fitting.
However, while the two are playing for bragging rights, the bigger issue is where the proceeds are headed.
The youth soccer organization Chester City United will receive 100 percent of the $10-per-ticket gate, in addition to close to $15,000 raised already from corporate sponsors, who have pledged anywhere from $500 to $8,000, according to Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz. Chester is one of the few communities in the region in which both the middle and high schools have no soccer program. In fact, Chester's best-known soccer claim to fame, young prospect Will Tripley III, was fatally shot in 2004. Chester City United is the organization that not only will become the feeder system for revitalization efforts, but attempt to assure that there will never be another story like Tripley's.
"All you have to do is drive through and see that there isn't much around to keep kids out of getting into trouble here," Sakiewicz said. "I've seen these kids come to the games, and their eyes just light up watching the passion for which the Union plays. We are looking to inspire a generation of kids who might not have the opportunity, and the thought really is that if we can get to these kids now and change them, it's not going to happen overnight, or in a year or in 10, but hopefully when they get older, these kids will be the change in their own communities. That's really what this is all about."
For those attending, parking is free in Lot B, and each ticket purchase also is good for $5 off your next purchase of a Union ticket.
ODDS AND ENDLINES
Peter Nowak would not elaborate about the Jordan Harvey trade to Vancouver last week for allocation money, saying simply: "It's done. There is nothing to say about how it's going to be [without Harvey], what it's going to be. We made adjustments, we got the offer, we took it, end of story" . . . For the first time this season, former Union forward Nick Zimmerman didn't make the starting lineup for the first-place Carolina RailHawks, of the North American Soccer League. Carolina tied tied Edmonton, 1-1, on Wednesday night . . . The Union reserves will play their fifth match of the season against New England's reserves on Monday at 10 a.m. at the Revs' training facility.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Union (7-4-7, 28 points) at New England (3-8-7, 16 points)
When: Sunday, 7 o'clock
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
On the web: Streaming online at MLSSoccer.com
For kicks: Statistically, it's the MLS Eastern Conference's best against its worst as New England still seeks its first win since one over Vancouver on May 14. The Revolution will be hosting on short rest following a 4-1 loss to Manchester United in the opener of the World Football Challenge on Wednesday night . . . However, what New England lacks in cohesion it makes up for with playmakers in Shalrie Joseph (leads team with five goals), Rajko Lekic (three goals) and U.S. national team midfielder Benny Feilhaber (team-high three assists), acquired by the Revs via allocation order earlier this season . . . Revolution keeper Matt Reis has been a mainstay with the club. Reis has been New England's No. 1 since 2004. This season, however, Reis has struggled, allowing 18 goals in 15 matches (1.20 goals against average). The Revs are 3-6-6 under Reis, who to his credit does boast three shutouts . . . Dairy king Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, also owns the Revolution. In addition, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati serves as president of the club.
Injury report (as of Tuesday)
Out for the Union: Levi Houapeu, FW (right ankle strain); Doubtful: Stefani Miglioranzi, MF (sinus fracture); Veljko Paunovic, FW (left hip strain); Probable: Danny Califf, DF (intercostal strain)
Out for the Revolution: Kheli Dube, FW (whiplash); Questionable: Ryan Cochrane, DF (left foot pain); Probable: Kevin Alston, MF (left hamstring tightness); Ousmane Dabo, MF (right quadriceps strain); Andrew Sousa, MF (left wrist surgery)
"He just needs to relax; he tries so hard but the harder he tries the tougher the game gets for him. It looks like he's playing in quicksand out there and I think this needs to chill out." - Union manager Peter Nowak, on the scoring woes of Sebastien Le Toux this season.