The United States Men's National Team have a five-month hiatus from World Cup qualifying, but when they return to the grind in March they could have already caught a break. Guatemala could be without their all-time leading goalscorer Carlos Ruiz for the next six months which would rule him out for both of their qualifying matches against the USA.
According to legendary Spanish-language soccer announcer Andres Cantor, Ruiz is facing a six-month ban for allegedly bumping into a ref during a league match in Guatemala. Playing with his club team, C.S.D. Municipal, Ruiz was apparently fouled, but took exception to the ref not cautioning the other player. Once he himself was shown a yellow card, he slapped the referee's arm earning a red card. He then proceeded to charge at the ref in a violent motion only to be held back by his teammates. Here's a video of the incident via Antigua Sports:
Because he's been slapped with the mandatory six-month suspension for referee abuse, "El Pescadito" will miss both of Guatemala's important World Cup qualifiers against the USMNT in March (the 25th and 29th) if the ban isn't overturned after an appeal.
There's a more than good chance you're familiar with Ruiz's antics from his numerous stints in MLS with clubs like the LA Galaxy, FC Dallas, and D.C. United. He was always a player with a short temper and was never afraid to stick his nose where it didn't belong. It appears this time it could cost him big.
Ruiz holds the record for most goals ever scored in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but he also holds the dubious honor of scoring the most goals in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying without playing in a World Cup.
The 36-year-old has undoubtedly lost a step or two from his prime, but the wily veteran still knows how to pester opposing back lines. With Guatemala already struggling in qualifying after a home loss to Trinidad & Tobago, the loss of Ruiz could be catastrophic to their chances of qualification. It will certainly hurt them against the USA, who the striker has always made life difficult for.