Fulham outcast Bryan Ruiz helped Costa Rica to a 2-1 win over Guatemala on Saturday night in the Copa Centroamericana final, scoring a stunning free-kick on 29 minutes to draw his side level, before a second-half strike from Juan Bustos saw Los Ticos prevail.
The win secures qualification to the 2016 Copa America Centenario for Paulo Wanchope’s side, with Ruiz’s talismanic performance earning him the man of the match award, coming on the back of a remarkable World Cup campaign under former manager Jorge Luis Pinto.
One of the standout performers during their run to the quarter-finals in Brazil, the forward’s form this summer was in stark contrast to that which has seen him become surplus to requirements at Craven Cottage, following an underwhelming spell since his 2011 arrival from FC Twente.
Shipped out on loan to PSV Eindhoven for the second-half of the 2013-14 season, after falling out of favour with old boss Rene Meulensteen, the £10.6 million man has also found himself on the outside of Felix Magath’s plans upon the club’s relegation to the Championship, but was left disappointed when a summer move failed to materialise.
Still to feature this season, despite the Cottagers sitting bottom of the table with just one point, one can’t help but feel that Ruiz’s reintroduction should be a no-brainer at this point, given that the under pressure German’s ambitious youth experiment has proved wholly unsuccessful so far.
The 29-year-old playmaker might have struggled to perform to the standard many expected in the Premier League but, after starring on the world’s biggest stage, he could no doubt provide the now-second-tier side with a much-needed creative outlet.
Whether Magath will look to Ruiz for help remains to be seen, but it’s also clear that he won’t be in charge for much longer if results don’t turn around quick, and his potential replacement might see more sense.