BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, March 11, 2011
American forward Adrian Ruelas says he is looking to build on his debut performance with Santos Laguna last weekend and become a key contributor the rest of the Mexican Clausura.
Ruelas, 19, returned to Torreon in January after spending last fall training Scottish club Celtic. He started the season with the club's U-20 team but after scoring seven goals in seven games, he was selected to the roster for senior team last Saturday for their home game against Club America.
"What can I say? It's every soccer player's dream," Ruelas told YA upon hearing the news. "I was really excited and it was a moment I was waiting for my whole life. It was my dream and it came true. In the moment I was just really excited. I just thought about all the things that I went through to get to that moment."
With the game against Club America tied 2-2 in the 80th minute, new head coach Diego Cocca told Ruelas that he was going to enter in the game. In the week leading up to the game, Ruelas was happy with how he had been playing and thought he had a chance to make his debut. For Ruelas, it was turning point in his young career.
"I was a little nervous but I think that I wasn't afraid I was going to mess up," Ruelas recalled. "It was just my first time and I would say I was more excited than nervous. I was prepared. After the recent week, I kind of had a feeling it was going to happen. So I had time to mentally prepare for it. When the coach called me up, I couldn't believe it was happening but when he gave me instructions as to what to do on the field, I had to put away all the nerves."
Ruelas' move to the first team has also come on the heels of a coaching change at Santos. On February 20th Ruben Omar Romano was fired as head coach and he was replaced with fellow Argentine Diego Cocca.
After the first three weeks, Ruelas has enjoyed the approach that Cocca has taken with the club's young players.
"It's been a positive change," Ruelas discussed. "The last coach [Romano] was great too and he liked me also but every coach has different strategies, different plans, and different ways to look at younger people. With the new coaching staff they look more to the reserve team and the younger players."
Ruelas not only feels the change will give him a better chance to play but also that it will give him a better chance to learn the game through Cocca's more hands-on-coaching philosophy.
"The new coach would come up to me and tell me to do things the other coach didn't," the Fontana, California native explained. "He is paying more attention to me more than the other coach did. He will guide me more. If I make a mistake or something, he will stop the play and have me redo it until it all comes out good. He will try to make me understand what he wants."
Ruelas' debut did not end well for Santos as Club America was able to grab a late winner through a goal by Angel Reyna. Despite the loss, Ruelas received nothing but positive feedback for his performance.
"All the players came over and congratulated me," Ruelas described. "Obviously it was a great game and I think it should have been a tie. Sometimes after a loss, things are different. But the coaching staff came over and congratulated me. They said I did well and to keep working. They have really helped."
Now that he has made the first team, Ruelas has changed his personal goals to become a regular player for Santos for the rest of the season and one that Cocca can build his team around for the future. While the current Santos roster very experienced, Ruelas is confident his success can continue.
"Obviously playing with the first team was my long term goal and now I accomplished it already," Ruelas concluded. "Now I've made new goals to keep playing regularly. I think that little by little and continuing to do well in training I can get in more games. The roster for this team is really, really competitive. Whatever the coach decides, I'll be ready for it."
Ruelas and Santos will travel to take on Toluca this Sunday.