Guatemala’s Carlos Ruiz has become the highest scorer in World Cup qualifying history after netting five goals in his final international appearance.
Ruiz, who announced his international retirement on Monday, scored a hat trick in the first half and then added a brace in the second half before exiting the match in the 88th minute. Guatemala beat St Vincent and the Grenadines 9-3 as Ruiz, 36, took his record to 68 goals in 133 games.
Despite the victory, Guatemala missed out on World Cup qualification, after USA beat Trinidad and Tobago 4-0. Despite the emphatic win, it was not enough to take Guatemala into the Hexagonal, the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying. However, no one can deny that the Los Chapines captain has done everything in his power to try to lead his country to the global extravaganza for the first time.
Widely known as just Pescado or “Fish”, he has been a member of the Guatemalan national team since 1998 and has played in five World Cup qualification competitions since making his first appearance for his country 18-years ago.
Ruiz, has played for five different MLS clubs (LA Galaxy, FC Dallas, Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union and D.C. United), also holds the record for the most post-season goals in MLS history with 16. In 2002, he was named the MLS’s Most Valuable Player of the season.
Ruiz, who is currently without a club but intends to continue playing professionally, gave the following explanation regarding his decision to retire from international football.
“I feel full of nostalgia when I look back to the beginning, but this is the right time to call it quits. I have to be sensible: I’m almost 37 and I know that I can contribute more off the pitch.”