Raúl Mario Ruidíaz Misitich (Spanish pronunciation: , Croatian: Misitić, born 25 July 1990) is a Peruvian footballer who currently plays for Seattle Sounders FC and the Peru national team, as a striker.
He is of maternal Croatian descent and his nickname, the Peruvian Messi, stems from his small frame and his ability to get past defenders with great ball control. Ruidíaz began his career at Universitario de Deportes, a powerhouse of a club in Peru, where he became an idol during the 2011 season, at just 21 years old. In January 2012, he joined Primera División club Universidad de Chile.
Ruidíaz grew up in the Lima neighbourhood of Villa María del Triunfo and made his first steps in club football at Primera División club Universitario de Deportes aged eight. In January 2008, the player was promoted to the first adult team and immediately loaned to América Cochahuayco, the club's filial team, directed by the coach Héctor Chumpitaz, an historic football player of the Peruvian national team in the 1982 World Cup. His first professional goal was against Hijos de Acosvinchos. After the arrival of Jorge Gonzáles, he began to play as a striker.
Ruidíaz made his professional debut in the Peruvian First Division on 4 October 2009 against Total Chalaco in the Monumental, at the age of 19. The coach at the time, Juan Reynoso, decided to play him from the start of the match, which finished 2-1 in favor of Universitario. He finished the season by scoring 3 goals in 7 games in the Peruvian 2009 Championship and also won his first National title with Universitario de Deportes. Ruidíaz has often been called pequeño Messi (little Messi) in his home country, mainly because of his ability to charge a player one on one, as well as his unique technical skills. Ruidiaz was listed among the greatest talents of South American football by O Globo Brazilian newspaper in 2010.
Universidad de Chile
On 20 January 2012, Ruidíaz was appointed as new player of the Primera División club Universidad de Chile. Despite some early success with his new club, Raul's lack of match fitness and the emergence of young talented strikers at the club Ruidíaz fell out of favour with the Universidad de Chile manager towards the end of the season. On 15 July 2012, Ruidíaz and club Universidad de Chile had mutually agreed to release him.
After participating in the Copa América Centenario, Ruidíaz signed for Mexican club Monarcas Morelia on a season-long loan deal for a reported fee of €105,000. He was presented to the media in Morelia on 1 July 2016 and was given the number 9 shirt. Ruidíaz made his Liga MX debut on 15 July 2016 replacing Diego Valdés in a 2–0 away loss to Tijuana. The following week, in Morelia's home opener, Ruidíaz scored his first goal in a 2–2 draw against Querétaro. On 1 August 2016, Ruidíaz scored a hat-trick in a 4–2 away win against Santos Laguna. Ruidíaz ended the season with 11 goals which made him the season's top scorer along with Tijuana's Dayro Moreno.
Before Morelia's Clausura 2017 home opener against Tijuana, Ruidíaz was honored with a commemorative plaque at Estadio Morelos for being the club's first Liga MX scoring champion. Ruidíaz later scored the second goal in Morelia's 2–0 opening match victory over Tijuana. Later that night, it was announced Morelia signed Ruidíaz to a permanent three-year transfer. Later in the season Ruidíaz scored his second hat-trick for Morelia in a 4–0 win over UNAM. In the final game of the season, Ruidíaz scored a crucial game winning goal in a 2–1 away victory over Monterrey. The goal helped Morelia avoid relegation, helped the team qualify to the liguilla and helped Ruidíaz win his second straight Liga MX scoring title.
On 6 June 2018 it was reported that Ruidíaz would be signing a contract with MLS side Seattle Sounders F.C.
Ruidíaz made his international debut on 7 June 2011 in a 0–0 draw against Japan in Niigata in the Kirin Cup. In the same month, Ruidíaz was called up by coach Sergio Markarián to represent Peru in the Copa América held in Argentina, Ruidíaz was a member of the Peruvian squad that finished 3rd, after a 4–1 victory over Venezuela, Ruidíaz made only one appearance in the tournament in a match against Chile in which Peru lost 1-0.
Ruidíaz was named as a member of Peru's 23-man squad for the Copa América Centenario in 2016. In Peru's third group match against Brazil on 12 June 2016, Ruidíaz scored a controversial goal, a winner in the 75th minute on which he clearly pushed the ball into the goal using his arm. The goal put Peru up 1–0, and that result held, sending Peru through to the knockout stage as winners of Group B.
In May 2018 he was named in Peru's provisional 24 man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
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