Guatemala's Andy Ruiz (pictured) celebrates after scoring against the USA in a CONCACAF Under-20 Championship match on January 9, 2015, in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo: Mexsport)
KINGSTON, Jamaica – In football, moments of brilliance don’t necessarily come as a result of excessive thought. Many times, the magic arises from pure reaction with hints of guile and, of course, significant doses of confidence.
In the 90th minute of Friday’s CONCACAF Under-20 Championship encounter against the United States, Andy Ruiz struck for a goal that only a few can even dream about executing successfully. His astonishing volley gave Guatemala a 1-1 draw and an important point in Group A.
“I’m still shaking,” the 18-year-old said afterwards.
After a corner kick was cleared from the edge of the goal box, the ball fell to a perfectly stationed Ruiz 25-yards out. Without hesitation, he made a clean right-footed connection, drilling it venomously under the crossbar, over the reach of goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
The FC Dallas youth standout humbly viewed the goal as part of a larger objective: qualifying for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
“It is football, so sometimes these things happen,” he commented. “We’re knew that we were still in the game. I just kept my concentration. The opportunity came and I just took it. Being part of a World Cup is one of my dreams and I’m happy to have scored today. That’s what every player wants, to get to the World Cup.”
Perhaps, Ruiz admitted, his accurate laser was thankfully derived from divine inspiration and intervention.
“The coach told us at the beginning of the game that each of the players has an angel,” he said. “That angel came with me and the ball came and I still cannot believe it.”
Ruiz doesn’t want his goal and the draw against the Americans to be the lone highlights of Guatemala’s participation in the CONCACAF event. Quite the contrary, he believes that there are bigger things to come for the young Chapines.
“It (the draw) means a lot,” Ruiz finished. “Obviously, it is just one point, not three, not three points, but we took one point from one of the two biggest of the conference in our group. To start like this in a competition for a World Cup is pretty good, it is pretty amazing. It is a good thing for the team, facing the other games, that we’ll be better and better and getting to our opportunity to go to the World Cup.”