Featured / Local

What the Union will miss from Carlos Ruiz

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

The Philadelphia Union player’s reactions to the announcement that Carlos Ruiz are telling. Brian Carroll and Danny Mwanga agreed the news was “tough.” Sebastien Le Toux said the team was disappointed “with losing Carlos,” adding, “He’s a great player and will be missed,” before agreeing with Carroll and Mwanga that the news was “tough.” Danny Calliff said “it’s really tough” before adding “Anytime there’s a change like this, it’s hard, but it is part of this business. It’s never easy.” Justin Mapp said, “We’ll miss him.”

Just what will be missed?

Shots on goal

We all knew Ruiz led the club in goals. He also led the club in shots on goals. Looking at the percentage of shots on goals from shots, Ruiz comes in at 40 percent. In other words, 40 percent of Ruiz’ shots were on goal. Looking at the rest of the Union forwards, Mwanga has the best shots on goal percentage with 50 percent. Jack McInerney is next with 33 percent, followed by Sebastien Le Toux at 27 percent and Veljko Paunovic at 25 percent. (Another way to look at this is to say that Ruiz’s shots are off target 60 percent of the time, while 50 percent of Mwanga’s shots are off target, 67 percent of McInerney’s shots are off target, Le Toux is off target 73 percent of the time and Paunovic is off target 75 percent of the time. Doing so largely ignores how challenging the game of soccer is, even for professionals.)

Looking at the rest of the Union’s goal scorers, only Justin Mapp and Roger Torres have scored more than one goal. Mapp shots are on goal 35 percent of the time. Torres’ shots are on goal 20 percent of the time.

Shots on goal into goals

What about the conversion rate of shots on goal into goals? Ruiz’ six goals from 14 shots on goal results in a conversion rate of 43 percent. Only Paunovic’s 50 percent from one goal/two shots on goal is higher. Mwanga’s conversion rate is 38 percent. Le Toux’ only goal did not come from open play so his actual conversion rate, like McInerney’s is zero percent. If we were to count Le Toux’ goal as coming from open play, his conversion rate goals from shots on goal would be 8 percent. For Mapp, the conversion rate of shots on goals into goals is 33 percent, 40 percent for Roger Torres.

Putting Paunovic’s conversion rate to the side given his substantially fewer appearances, Ruiz’ conversion rate was the best on the team.

Goal scoring rate

How about the rate of goals per minutes played? Only Ruiz and Mwanga are really valid for comparison here: McInereny has no goals and the single goal that Le Toux and Paunovic have means that they have a goal per however minutes they play until they actually score another goal. Looking at Ruiz and Mwanga, Ruiz scored a goal every 191 minutes while Mwanga has scored a goal every 212 minutes. In terms of goals per games played, Ruiz scored a goal every 2.3 appearances while Mwanga has scored a goal every 3.6 appearances.

At present, Mapp’s goal scoring rate is one goal every 560 minutes, or one goal every 8.5 appearances. For Torres, the rate is one goal every 184 minutes, or every 6.5 appearances.

Again, Ruiz was the team leader.

Impact of goals on game result

Ruiz led the team in game winning goals with three. Among Union forwards, Le Toux and Mwanga each have one (across the rest of the roster, Califf, Kyle Nakazawa, Torres and Sheanon Williams each have one, as well).

However, the impact of Carlos Ruiz’ goals is deeper than the number of game winners. When Ruiz had scored, the Union were 5–0–1, earning 16 points. When Mwanga has scored, the Union are 2–0–2, two of his goals coming in the 6–2 rout of Toronto, for eight points. Le Toux’ PK was the game winner against San Jose for three points and Paunovic’s tally was part of the come back against Chivas USA for three points. Returning to Mapp and Torres, Mapp’s two goals against Toronto contributed to the Union earning three points. Torres scored the game winner against New York for three points. His late goal in the loss to Colorado marks the first time this season the Union have scored a goal in a loss, the team being shut out in the previous four losses.

Plainly, Ruiz’ goals have been the greatest contributor to the offensive Union’s success so far this season. The 16 points that the club has earned from games he scored in equals 53 percent of the team’s 31 points. You may not have liked him, but no one has been more effective offensively on the team.

So, what will the Union miss with the departure of Carlos Ruiz? They will miss their most decisive goal-scorer of the season. Just who will replace him—be that a player already on the team or a new signing—remains to be seen.


  1. thank you, ed.

  2. Exactly what I’ve been trying to point out. For the record, I am not primarily a Le Toux, Mwanga or Mondragon fan…I am first and foremost a Union fan. I could care less who suits up for us as long as they perform and get the job done.

  3. very depressed today.

  4. Calling Ruiz goals the single greatst contributor tto the Unions successs this sseason is quite frankly idiotic.

    The Union have he second best goals againt number in he league. That STUPID COMMENT is an insult to our goalie and our defense, as well as some great holdinng at the midfield.

    Our gaol production is middle of the raod. Who knows how much efect Carlos Ruiz inability to involve ootheer plaayers (said subjectively by watching eevery games and objectively by lookin at his assissts). THis is a one sided and idotic commentary.

    When a guys stands in the box, and does noothing bbut try to tap the ball in, he will have a high coonversion rate. Trus me, Jack Mac would have just as good or better if he were allowed too progress as the starter.

    • I’d agree with this argument. Ruiz set himself up as the lone target, and our offense with him on the field looked to have minimal flow. The defense has been the key to your standing, and perhaps now players will not be relying on Ruiz, step up, build a flow and chemistry, and hopefully the offense will improve as a unit.

      We shall see.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      The sentence was supposed to read “offensive success,” Kwiggles. Corrected now.

  5. Still not that worried about losing him. I just want to see Jack and Mwanga start from now on. Let them grow together.

  6. MikeRSoccer says:

    I think your missing the point about why people are not upset about Ruiz leaving. Yes, Ruiz was the offensive leader in every stat. But, the introduction of Ruiz took the burgeoning striker tandem of Le Toux and Mwanga that was clearly on its way to becoming a major threat to any team in the league and completely disrupted the chemistry. Le Toux noted at the start of the season that he was struggling to develop chemistry and form with Ruiz. Now, arguments can be made that perhaps Le Toux would have struggled regardless this season, but forcing him to develop a new partnership with Ruiz surely did not help. Also, take a look at the three games that Carlos Ruiz had the 3 GWG. All of those games were characterized by Ruiz missing opportunity after opportunity, but eventually putting one away. Excellent games, but watching a replay of the games clearly shows that the Union should have won decisively had Ruiz not missed some golden opportunities. Stats are not everything.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      The post isn’t about why many people are not upset about Ruiz leaving, it is about what will be missing now that he is gone. My own feelings about Ruiz have gone from not liking him at all to a recognition that when he is on the field (and somehow chooses to become involved) the Union offense is more reliably capable of scoring goals – and still not liking him.
      If you want to single out the three games in which Ruiz goals were game winners and then point to the opportunities he missed in those games, why not do the same for the rest of forwards and every game? The season has been characterized by a typically strong defense and a Union offense that has, with all-too-rare rare exception, missed, as you say, opportunity after opportunity. Of course stats are not everything. What they are, though, is a measure of results and effectiveness. Ruiz was more reliably and regularly effective at doing what he is supposed to be doing than anyone else on the offense. Acknowledging that is not a declaration of affection.
      Did Ruiz affect the team’s offensive chemistry? Probably. Did he nevertheless do what he was paid to do? Yes. So, the big question then is who will become that decisive offensive contributor? Will it be Mwanga? Will the curse finally be lifted from Le Toux? Will it be a new signing?
      When you were watching Friday night’s loss, did you at anytime wonder, “Would Ruiz have put that one away?” I know I did. I hope I don’t continue to ask myself that question in the coming weeks.

      • Well said

      • To answer your questions about Friday night Mr Farnsworth. Quite simply the answer is no. I have watched Ruiz blow easy goals just as much as any other player on the offense. How many of our striker would have scored on that breakaway during the Real Madrid game. Nice goal agains DC united, but at least two easy goaals missed. All you idiots saying he was paid to score goals as your eexcue for his otherwise lack of contribution, out to look at his totals. They werent that great. Lets get somebody else and move on.

      • Our mistake. We thought the league gave trophies out to teams who win, not teams who fans preceive tries hardest.
        All of you non-idiots can go back to giving out ‘good work’ ribbons for their effort while scoffing at the older guy who executed his job well and simply didn’t run as far. We won’t interfere with you anymore

      • Silver hiar says:

        Ruiz was not the reason we won. If that is what you think then you are an idiot.

  7. If snyone truly believes that JackMac can be as affective as ruiz, right now, they are fooling themselves. We are in trouble. how many times last night did players flat out refuse to shoot? Mwanga, Letoux and Mapp all had oppurtunities that didn’t even result in shots! Ruiz may not have played a brand of soccer that is appreciated in Philly (he is after all the anti-rocky), but he had the mindset of a finisher, something this team now sorely lacks.
    So far Nowak and Co. have made all the right moves in assembling this roster, we can only hope now that the recent subtractions in both roster and salary lead them to aquire another goal scorer…. something this team now lacks.

    • If you played ssoccer before, you recognize when a team is flat out stacckiing the box (Colorado). You can shoot at will, but the ball gets blocked and you likeely lose possession. You have to move th ball around until there is a lane to the goal.

  8. I never cared for him, but some of the goals he scored showed that Nowak was right. The guy had a nose for goal. I don’t think you build long term though with that kind of guy. We’re not the team that wins the league, or wins the play-offs this year.

    If we’re going to spend a lot of money for a striker can’t we bring in a guy like Henry, who not only creates but adds to synergy and has some fitness? Somebody I can like? I know my affections aren’t Nowak’s concern though.

    While the likelihood is that we will struggle a bit for goals, I’m excited to see what happens when Mwagic and Union Jack get more time in front of goal. Jack had three goals last year. Can Danny beat his total of seven?

  9. What concerns me is that we were finally starting to warm up to Ruiz. If you read through product reviews on the internet, then you can see that there are a disproportionate amount of negative reviews. Mad people tend to write more than happy people. So there were negative things posted. IF YOU FEEL HE IS WRONGLY ACCUSED, THEN DEFEND HIS STYLE OF PLAY. EXPLAIN WHY HE WAITS AAND HANGS ON THE LAST DEFENDER. Dont whine about the bloggers and trade him for gods sake.

    • Yeah, it was really lame for Nowak to blame the fans for us losing Carlos. Nowak made that decision because he thought it was better for the team, and took the moment to criticize anyone who criticized him. It’s like Stalin but instead of the Gulag. Okay, it’s not like Stalin, but sometimes it feels that Nowak would like it to be.

  10. I think the fact that he lead the team in offside calls (16) and more often than not they were poor decisions on his part vs. over-exuberance to attack up-field drew the ire of the fans, and ultimately the stubbornness of Carlos thinking he was doing no wrong led to his leaving the Union (and the MLS referees behind).

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