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Orlando City right wingback Ruan determined to make most of opportunity with Lions

Orlando City SC defender Ruan (2) passes the ball against the Colorado Rapids during the first half at Orlando City Stadium. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando City right wingback Ruan has always been fast.

Ruan’s ability to impact a match has been obvious since he stepped on the pitch in the 58th minute of Orlando City’s 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire. The speedster has blown by defenders – Fire left back Jorge Corrales was sent off for tripping up Ruan six minutes into the latter’s debut for Orlando City – and has created chances for the Lions.

“Since I was a little kid, since I’ve been playing in all different categories and teams around Brazil, I was always one of the top fastest guys on the team,” Ruan told Pro Soccer USA on Thursday through a translator. 

Ruan (pronounced WHO-ahn) doesn’t have the stats yet. Officially, no goals or assists have been credited to the right wingback. But the impact is there. Against the Colorado Rapids, he was involved in three sequences that led to goals for the Lions during a wild 4-3 victory. He earned an MLS Team of the Week nod for his performance. 

He nutmegged Dillon Serna and sent in a cross that eventually got to João Moutinho, who provided the assist for Nani’s header. Ruan led the counter-attack that led to a shot for star striker Dom Dwyer, which was saved. Forward Tesho Akindele put away the rebound. And, of course, his cross led to the handball in the penalty area, setting up Nani’s match-winning penalty kick.

There’s still room to improve. Ruan has taken three shots, two of which have been on target, and coach James O’Connor has said the wingback is unlucky not to have a goal of his own yet.

“I think every player needs improvement and one of the things that I’ve been speaking to the technical staff a lot about [and] … have been trying to work on separate from the group is the decision in the final third,” he said. “Either finishing or crossing, this is something that I need to be sharper on. That’s something that I need to work on.”

It’s been an adjustment for the native of Rio De Janeiro. Ruan spent last season with Brazilian Serie B side Associação Atlética Ponte Preta and his only language when he arrived in Orlando was Portuguese. He was signed to a one-year deal as part of a Orlando City roster overhaul. 

He said left wingback João Moutinho, midfielder Uri Rosell and Orlando City SC scouting director Ricardo Moreira have helped him understand O’Connor. Moutinho, Rosell and Moreira – Ruan’s translator on Thursday – all speak Portuguese.

“I’ve been learning English,” Ruan said. “It’s a process. I’ll get there. With the daily issues, those are the guys who have been helping me.”

Rosell said Ruan is stepping up a bit more each day.

“I think he’s an amazing player,” Rosell said. “He’s very fast and that gives us a lot of good things on the right side. The way he thinks, every day, is better. The way he reads the game, every day, is better.”

On adapting to MLS, Ruan said, “It’s been good because although MLS is a different style of play, the fact that I’m fast helps me because the game here is fast. It’s not a big issue for me.”

Ruan’s life in Orlando is a bit easier because his wife, Ingrid, is in Central Florida, too. The couple have been married for a year and four months, and Ruan said his wife helps him navigate life on and off the pitch.

“She’s been extremely helpful,” he said.

“She speaks a little bit of English, so it helps in the day-by-day tests that we have at home and in the streets, walking around and et cetera. She’s the one that, every day, when I get home, she asks me about training. She asks me how it was in the game. She even told me [after] one of the games that I should be doing something different [from what] I did on the field. She also helps me cook Brazilian food.”

His family serves as his inspiration, he said.

“Playing abroad, to be honest, was one of my goals during my early career,” he said. “Either in the U.S. or Europe. So, when the opportunity finally came, I was proud of being linked to a club like this. Every time I step on the field, every time I stop here in training, I’m thinking about my family. Helping my family back in Brazil and helping myself become a better player.

“Those are the things that are on the top of my mind. That helps me put a lot of effort every day to help the team get the results and get the victories.”  

MLS Parley kits released

MLS unveiled the latest Parley kits, which will be worn the weekend of Earth Day (April 19-21). The kits are made from Parley Ocean Plastic with “For the Oceans” printed inside the neck of the kits. This year’s kits come in shades of blue. They’re available online, but they are already sold out for various teams. 

TAM incoming

The LA Galaxy will send $400,000 in Targeted Allocation Money over to Orlando City in exchange for the No. 2 spot in the allocation order, a league source confirmed to Pro Soccer USA. Orlando City will receive $300,000 in TAM in 2019 and $100,000 in TAM for the 2020 season. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle first reported the deal. 

Injury updates

Centerback Alex De John (hamstring) was training to the side during the media portion of Thursday’s training session, while centerback/defensive midfielder Carlos Ascues wasn’t present.

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