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2019 Orlando City Season in Review: Ruan

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A look at the speedster’s first year in purple.

SOCCER: AUG 03 MLS - FC Dallas at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After Orlando City released Scott Sutter during the off-season last year it was unclear what the plan was going forward at right back. Upon the announcement that the club had signed Ruan it was unclear how big of a part he would play in the team. He was well known in Brazil for his speed and what he could add to a team going forward but there wasn’t a ton of information to indicate whether or not he would successfully be able to transition to MLS.

Luckily for Ruan, and by extension Orlando City, the speedy right back seemed to take to life in MLS very well and had a quite solid first season for the Lions. Let’s take a look at how it went.

Statistical Breakdown

In total, Ruan played in 28 games for Orlando City during the 2019 season, with 25 of those matches coming in league play, along with three appearances during the U.S. Open Cup. Two of his MLS appearances were as a substitute, and he started and went the full 90 in all three Open Cup games. He logged 2,366 minutes across all competitions which places him squarely among the players who featured most for the club this year.

Going forward, he didn’t score a goal but he recorded five assists — second only to Nani’s 10 on the club — and took eight shots, placing half of that number on target. He passed the ball at a 76% clip and averaged 0.6 key passes per game, illustrating the danger he carried down the right flank. He also loved a dribble, and completed an average of 1.3 per game, a rather unsurprising number if you watched him play even once.

Defensively, he averaged 1.7 tackles, 0.8 interceptions, and 1.2 clearances per game. He committed 19 fouls and was shown a solitary yellow card; however, he drew 37 fouls from the opposition, tying Nani for the team lead in that category. He was offside a whopping nine times. That’s a lot for a fullback and only Dom Dwyer (15) and Tesho Akindele (12) — both forwards — were offside more.

Best Game

Ruan did his best work in the first half of the season, so it makes sense that his best game was in the 1-0 home win over the Vancouver Whitecaps back in April. On that day he was immense for the Lions, recording two interceptions and a clearance on defense which might not seem like much but his biggest contributions were at the other end of the field. He absolutely shone offensively for OCSC, with 91 touches (second on the team), nine crosses, 94% accuracy passing the ball, and a cutback to Sacha Kljestan that created the game-winning goal and went down as a key pass.

He narrowly missed out on the Man of the Match award to Nani, with TML’s Andrew Sharp grading both men an 8.5 on the day.

2019 Final Grade

I mentioned earlier that Ruan did his best work during the first half of the season, and while the latter half of the year wasn’t necessarily bad for him, it didn’t quite match up to the early standard that he set. Part of this is probably due to a series of injuries that he struggled with, as well as his high amount of playing time. He was one of the first names on the team sheet for the first few months of the season and his high octane style of play likely meant that his fitness levels weren’t the same in August as they were in September and he also likely suffered from not having Joao Moutinho on the other side to keep the defense honest. Nevertheless it was still a good first season from the Brazilian and our staff awarded him an overall grade of 6.5.

2020 Outlook

Given what Ruan brings to the table offensively alone, I’d be shocked if the club doesn’t do its utmost to bring him back next year. He’s also no slouch defensively, and while he can sometimes get caught out of position, his pace is more than capable of bailing himself out of trouble. The only possible roadblock to his return is the fact that he was only signed to a one-year deal last year and it’s not unreasonable that his 2019 season caught the eye of another club that will try to sign him. But with five assists from the fullback position along with 16 key passes, Ruan provided the sort of contribution that isn’t easily replaceable; and when he’s fit and firing he creates absolute havoc down the right side of the field. I would definitely expect to see him back in purple next year.


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