Chooch Parte Dos? Union Close to Signing Carlos Ruiz

Chooch Parte Dos? Union Close to Signing Carlos Ruiz

[UPDATE: The Union have officially signed Carlos Ruiz.]

Philly.com's Jonathan Tannenwald reports that the Union have a deal in place with forward Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz, who comes equipped with his own non-Chooch nickname (El Pescadito - "Little Fish") is an MLS veteran. He's had two stints with the LA Galaxy, scored 31 goals in 68 games with FC Dallas, and had a five game cup of coffee with Toronto.

He most recently played with Aris in Greece, where Americans Freddy Adu and Eddie Johnson played before also moving on. Whereas the Phillies' Chooch hails from Panama, El Pescadito is from Guatemala, where he's the national team's all-time leading scorer.

Assuming the deal closes, what can you expect from the Union's newest signing (aside from well placed elbows to the face)?

Well, if past performance is any indication you can expect lots of clutching, grabbing, faking of injury, and exaggerating. Assuming he's in form you can also expect a fair amount of goal scoring. Ruiz knows how to find the back of the net, scoring 82 times in MLS play.

Ruiz is the kind of player you hate when he's on the opposing team, but love when he's on your team. He's only 5'9" and literally has to scratch and claw for any and all space on the field. He's short and squat, kind of like Chooch, but he's way more demonstrative and wears a perpetual scowl on his face.

I am not 100% sure how or why he earned the nickname El Pescadito, but I can only assume it has to do with his flopping. I know it sounds like I am killing the guy, but he's always been very difficult to watch. I suppose a nice way to put it would be to say that he's crafty. Sure, "crafty" could easily be confused with cheap, but perception depends on which side of the fence you're on.

Another thing I'll say about Ruiz is that he is completely unafraid to mix it up. I can absolutely see Peter Nowak loving him and his willingness to do anything and everything to win or gain an advantage.

In soccer there are a number of players who are skilled in what is often referred to as "the dark arts" (think Mark van Bommel, Nigel De Jong, and Gennaro Gattuso). It's not often that a forward or striker is thought of in those terms, but Ruiz comes about as close as any I've ever seen.

If nothing else, the Union have certainly addressed a major area of need. Their only returning reliable goal scoring threats are Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga. A player with the goal scoring pedigree of Ruiz should certainly help the Union finish in the final third.

Bottom line, if he's fit the Union will likely see both their goal scoring and yellow card totals go up.

La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

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La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

RICHMOND, Va. -- Justin Tillman had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead five VCU players in double figures in a 90-52 victory over La Salle on Sunday.

VCU held La Salle to 15 made field goals and forced 16 turnovers.

VCU went on a 19-0 first-half run -- with 11 points from JeQuan Lewis -- for a 38-14 lead and the Rams led 42-16 at halftime after shooting 51.5 percent. Lewis made 5 of 6 shots and had 13 of his 15 points in the first half.

Samir Doughty added 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Burgess scored 10. Tillman was 7 of 10 from the field as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.

Jordan Price and Saul Phiri each scored 11 points for La Salle (11-6, 5-2) and Pookie Powell added 10. It was a season-high for the freshman Phiri but the Explorers were just 15-of-53 shooting (28.3 percent).

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

Well, if anyone hoped the Sixers' performance at game's end against Portland on Friday night -- with Joel Embiid riding the bench, ruled out for the game's remainder with a left knee contusion -- would carry over to an entirely Embiid-less game again Saturdaynight... I guess you're not alone, 'coz I sorta did. Perhaps it shouldn't have been particularly surprising to see that the Sixers were still the same team last night in Atlanta they were the previous Saturday against the Wizards: good enough to hang against an above-average East team, but not nearly good enough to actually win. 

At least they kept this one closer longer. Normally, against the Hawks, once the single-digit lead in the first half balloons into the double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never deflates back, but this time we cut it down to seven a couple times -- just never hitting that one big shot that would've really made things interesting, ultimately losing 110-93. It doesn't help that Nik Stauskas is in the midst of one of his most refrigerated runs as a Sixer, going just 7-30 (3-16 from deep) over Philly's last five games, or that Dario Saric is similarly bricking shots near and wide, a remarkable 2 for 22 over his last couple contests. 

This, sadly, is a primary reason why the Sixers' playoff hopes, while fun to dream about, are still unlikely to be more than a flicker. Over the next few weeks, the Sixers have a trio of back-to-backs coming up, with the back-end games coming against Milwaukee, Sacramento and San Antonio -- none of which Philly, 2-12 without their star center, are probable to win sans JoJo. Even if they can take care of business with Embiid on the court, it'll be tough to make up the ground that the Sons of Sam need to while they have to drop one every three or four games as Joel sits. 

That's fine, though. This season's been super-fun, but we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves: Let's ensure Embiid's health, maybe get Ben Simmons out there too, secure a nice draft pick or two (though the plummeting Kings could be of significant help with that themselves), and focus on making next year even more of a thing. The future remains impossibly bright, even if the present is going to have to be borderline-unwatchable once or twice a week.