Photo by ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
WASHINGTON — Some 16 years may separate Michael Seaton and Carlos Ruiz in age. The former played his first top-flight professional game on Friday. The latter has hundreds under his belt. But that odd couple up top still managed to produce a moment of inspiration.
In the 73rd minute of D.C. United’s friendly against Chivas Guadalajara, Seaton ran onto a throw-in down the right flank, shrugged off a challenge and hit a low centering feed.
And there was Ruiz, who has been playing professional soccer since before Seaton was born, positioned to calmly slot home the opener in what ended as a 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium.
For the 17-year-old Seaton, a homegrown player signed in January, the sequence came on his first touch in a United uniform. While he’s only dressed for a single competitive match with D.C., he has scored four goals during his loan to third-tier Richmond this season.
“That play sums up why he’s scoring goals,” coach Ben Olsen said. “He has something about him. He doesn’t have a lot of fear in his mind. He goes hard. He’s competitive. He loves this team. So it’s nice to see him come and contribute.”
Seaton was hoping to score, naturally. He even had a shirt under his jersey wishing happy birthday to his mother if he did. But he’ll gladly take the assist — and the satisfaction of getting that first appearance out of the way.
“That’s my mentality,” Seaton said. “First game, [whether] you played bad or good, it’s a bonus. You still learn from it, and the next game you play much better.”
Ruiz, meanwhile, has logged 12 league matches for United this season but has no goals in just 438 minutes. The former league MVP has been sitting on 88 MLS tallies all season, watching Lionard Pajoy, Casey Townsend and the since-departed Rafael get playing time over him up top.
But in his 45 minutes against Chivas, the 33-year-old showed the classy hold-up play that has been a reliable part of his game this season — and the goal-scoring touch that hasn’t.
So did he make a case for more minutes?
“It depends how the coaching staff thinks we’re going to play,” Ruiz said. “Maybe they need somebody who is running up and down like Pajoy. Maybe they need a young forward like Casey. Or maybe they need Carlos Ruiz.”
At this point, the paths of Seaton and Ruiz diverge. Seaton will join Richmond for a match at the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday, and he is unlikely to feature for United again in the immediate future.
Ruiz, on the other hand, will hope he did enough to earn a start when United return to competitive action July 20 at the Chicago Fire.
But both players will try to build off the goal, which was the first for United from the run of play at RFK Stadium since May 19.
“Any goal right now,” Olsen said, “is exciting to me.”