Defender Danny Califf knows what recently signed striker Carlos Ruiz brings to the Union.
The two won a championship together in 2002, each a member of the LA Galaxy side that topped the New England Revolution 1-0 in front of 61,316 fans at Gillette Stadium.
Ruiz was named MLS Cup MVP, netting the match’s lone goal in the 113th minute.
WATCH: 2002 MLS Cup highlights
That Ruiz was the hero in the final match of the 2002 campaign hardly came as a surprise. “El Pescadito” was unstoppable all year, racking up 24 regular season goals and eight postseason goals, the latter total still holding up as a league record.
Ruiz will be hard-pressed to duplicate his 2002 MVP form with the Union, but Califf believes the second-year club will benefit greatly from the 31-year-old’s presence.
“I have played with Carlos in Los Angeles and won an MLS Cup alongside him there, so I think I have a unique perspective about what he brings to the team,” Califf told philadelphiaunion.com from Greece. “He brings the experience of playing not only in MLS, but also abroad at a high level.
“He is the type of player that simply can score goals. The ball seems to find him in front of the goal, and he can finish off those plays. He is also one of those guys you hate to play against, but love to have on your team.”
Ruiz has fond memories of his three years playing alongside Califf, but the 2002 final is the memory that stands out above all others. The crowd at Gillette Stadium still stands as an MLS Cup attendance record, a match that featured the likes of Kevin Hartman, Alexi Lalas, former Union forward Alejandro Moreno, Cobi Jones and Mauricio Cienfuegos for the Galaxy, as well as Revolution legends Steve Ralston and Taylor Twellman.
Just under a decade later, Ruiz is eyeing another championship run with Califf, this time in Philadelphia.
“I know Danny Califf and I know what kind of person he is,” said Ruiz. “Obviously we know how it is to win a championship – what we have to do, how hard we have to work to do it again. So, him and I and other players here who know the feeling to win a championship, we can show to the other young players what we have to do.”