World Cup Player Profile: Bryan Ruiz

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not Bryan Ruiz is still on the Fulham books. I expect that to change as soon as the World Cup ends. But until then, I'll be rooting for him to do well.

Bryan Ruiz has a controversial history with Fulham. Brought in to score goals, he was poorly used as a winger and never adjusted to the speed and physicality of the Premier League. No player has divided the fan base so much. Many are in love with the quality and skill he can bring on the ball. Others can't stand his lack of defense and the way he can be easily dispossessed.

Unlike at Fulham, Ruiz is always put into the position to succeed with Costa Rica. He's one of the key players they have built around and has found a lot of success with the squad.

Costa Rica
Attacking Midfielder/Striker
Caps: 62, Goals: 12
Group D

Bryan Ruiz

Service for Costa Rica: Ruiz has been a mainstay of the national team since 2007. He's always been one of their best players. He takes most of their set pieces and has scored some very important goals. Some of the most memorable were the two he scored on the USA in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Costa Rica failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, but it was goals like those that had fans excited when he joined Fulham.

What makes him interesting: Very few players have the kind of ball skills that Ruiz posses. He can shoot from distance and make the ball move and curve in extraordinary fashion. He's a creative passer and willing to set up others for goals. He's actually bigger than he appears and is decent in the air, especially on late runs into the box. His issues with Fulham were his propensity to be knocked off the ball by bigger and stronger players. He often held the ball longer than he should and was then dispossessed. He also is not a hard worker on defense and is much slower than you think he should be.

What to expect in Brazil: The Ticos have the chance to shock a lot of people. Their group is brutal, but it wouldn't surprise me to see them get out of it. They generally play a 4-4-2 with Ruiz as a withdrawn striker. However, when playing superior opponents they revert to a 5-4-1 with Ruiz given a free attacking role in the midfield. That's most likely the way they'll play all their games in the tournament.

I don't expect Ruiz to be back at Fulham next year. He spent the second half of the year on loan, and Martin Jol seemed to be his only fan at the club. From a Fulham perspective, a great World Cup from Ruiz could boost his value enough to sell him on. His skill set would work much better in a league like Spain than it ever would slogging through the Championship.

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