Philadelphia lacked a scoring edge against Colorado, and coach Nowak revealed Ruiz won't be returning to provide it.
That all changed on Friday night, as the Colorado Rapids used its three shots to extract a 2-1 win over Philadelphia.
Coming off of two impressive showings in friendly matches against Everton and Real Madrid, all of Philly's positive momentum sputtered into a sluggish start to the second half of the MLS season. Two goals in the span of ten minutes at the end of the first half carved out the Union's deficit. Even though the team battled back, with Roger Torres scoring in stoppage time, it wasn’t enough to even the match up.
Yet the first home loss of the season wasn't the most important talking point in the post-match press conference.
Peter Nowak announced that Guatemalan forward Carlos Ruiz would be leaving the club.
“We accepted an offer from another club. Carlos is no longer going to be with us,” announced Nowak. “The details are being finalized, but it will probably be a couple of weeks before it is finished.”
With a team struggling to score goals, losing the top scorer seems a less than ideal solution. Now Danny Mwanga and Sebastian Le Toux will be forced to step up, a pair that has scored as many goals combined as Ruiz had alone (6).
“Finishing the chances we have, yes it’s a problem," Nowak admitted. "What we need is a killer instinct, something that Carlos possesses. Right now, that is the situation we will work on.”
Nowak did not announce what team Ruiz is joining, but rumors have already suggested a return to Puebla FC for the 31-year-old.
However, the most bizarre part was the coach's reasoning for letting Ruiz leave. Nowak seemed to blame the fans, not sporting interests, as the motivation.
“A lot of fans even in the stands have a pre-bias toward Carlos and make bad comments about him being a diver, being that, being that, not working hard, all these little things, and it was getting tired to us,” Nowak said. “I always believed fans in the stands will stand behind us and are going to cheer for us and all the players we have on the roster, and not having something against a single player. As I said, it’s an unfortunate thing.”
While Philly figures out who is going to put the ball in the back of the net, the Rapids are already working on solving a similar qualm.
Colorado has had to deal with a plethora of injuries, most recently the loss of Conor Casey (scorer of six goals himself this year) for the remainder of the season. Sanna Nyassi has shifted up top to replace Casey and has gone on to score four goals in his last three matches, including a hat-trick against New York last week.
“Every player gets an opportunity in their career to take a chance," Rapids coach Gary Smith said of Nyassi. "Most teams see him as an exciting individual, and he has been made hell of a return, and he thrives on the freedom he has been allowed.”
Colorado, the defending MLS Cup champion, looked the part in the win.
“Philadelphia is very very difficult because they are confident,” said Smith. “Giving them their first defeat, it is a privilege. They really made us work hard for it.”