Peter Nowak, Philadelphia Union
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Emilio or Ruiz? Who Philadelphia should choose

Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak has brought in a whole host of recruits since taking control of the team last May. From those brought in through the expansion draft to the signing of captain Danny Califf, Michael Orozco and Roger Torres, Nowak has become a bit of a wheeler-dealer.

It appears he might spin the wheel and deal the cards again soon.

Former MLS marksmen Luciano Emilio and Carlos Ruiz have had their names linked to the Union of late, and there is a very real chance that either of the names could end up plying their trade in the City of Brotherly Love this season.

The question is: Who’d be better for the Union?

Let’s break it down.

First of all, both are on the wrong side of 30. Emilio, 31, spent three seasons with D.C. United before signing with Rio Branco earlier this season. A shade younger at 30, Ruiz was once one of the most prolific scorers in MLS, notching 88 goals over seven seasons with LA and Dallas.

The two have differing playing styles, though. Ruiz is more of a prototypical striker, trawling for goals any way he can. Emilio, who won the Golden Boot and MVP in 2007, is more of a targetman.

As prolific as they both were, they also had their off years. Ruiz managed only one goal in his last year in the league (2008). Emilio fared better statistically, but certainly experienced a dip in form after the magical 2007 season.

So there is no guarantee either one would work out. But Emilio seems a better choice. He’s stronger on the ball and his reputation at this point is less sullied than that of the ornery Ruiz. The Union’s young squad needs someone who can distribute as well as score. Emilio can do that. He and Alejandro Moreno would make a powerful, ball-controlling front pairing.

Signing Emilio would add yet another D.C. United link to the Union, something that the fans may start to resent if they begin to believe Nowak is building his new team in the image of his old one. But honestly, that shouldn’t be an issue. After all, Nowak’s old one won the MLS Cup. 

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