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Ruiz Will Be Focus for the U.S.

Times Staff Writer

When he heard last week that he might be traded by the Galaxy to FC Dallas, Guatemala national team striker Carlos Ruiz was not pleased.

He took out his anger Saturday, scoring twice as Guatemala demolished Trinidad and Tobago, 5-1, in a World Cup qualifying match in Guatemala City.

Tuesday, the trade was still very much alive and Ruiz was aware that by week’s end he no longer would be calling the Home Depot Center home. The Galaxy is swapping Ruiz for a Major League Soccer player allocation held by FC Dallas that it will use to acquire Landon Donovan.

So, just what Ruiz’s reaction will be when Guatemala plays the U.S. at Legion Field here tonight in another World Cup qualifier is difficult to imagine.

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Two goals for a trade rumor, three for an actual trade?

That Donovan, as well as Eddie Johnson, Ruiz’s soon-to-be strike partner at FC Dallas, will be on the opposite side of the field makes the game all the more intriguing.

Guatemala is in second place behind Mexico in the six-team group with four points. The U.S. is tied for third with Costa Rica with three points and can overtake Guatemala with a victory.

In other matches tonight, Mexico (six points) is at Panama (one point) and Costa Rica is at Trinidad and Tobago (no points).

Donovan’s future also moved into clearer focus when Associated Press reported Tuesday from Germany that the midfielder’s club, Bayer Leverkusen, had agreed to release him after Donovan told Coach Klaus Augenthaler on Sunday night from Mexico of his desire to return to MLS.

“He had the possibility built into his contract to leave if he wanted,” Bayer Leverkusen spokesman Uli Dost told AP.

“The coach said, ‘OK, you can leave.’ ”

Meanwhile, U.S. Coach Bruce Arena has pointedly suggested that Donovan pay attention to the Guatemala game and ignore his immediate club future, and Donovan is heeding the message.

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“It’s disappointing but I think we’re fine,” he said after the U.S. team’s 2-1 loss to Mexico on Sunday. “I have no doubt that we’ll be ready Wednesday. Absolutely. I’m already looking forward to it. I just want to crush Guatemala, personally, and I’m sure everyone else is even more fired up than I am.”

Said teammate Eddie Lewis: “We’re playing on home soil. It’s down at sea level. We always seem to do well at home. We’ll be able to put our foot on the gas a bit more.”

*

TONIGHT’S GAME

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* What: World Cup 2006 qualifying game.

* Who: U.S. vs. Guatemala.

* Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.

* When: 5 p.m. PST.

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* TV: ESPN2; Telemundo (11:30 p.m.).

* Qualifying records: U.S. 1-1, Guatemala 1-0-1.

* Record vs. Guatemala: U.S. leads the all-time series 7-4-3, including 3-0-3 in World Cup qualifying.

* Update: U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley will sit out after picking up a second yellow card in the team’s loss to Mexico.

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