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2020 Orlando City Season in Review: Ruan

A look back at the speedy Brazilian’s second season with the Lions.

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 season was the second in purple for Ruan after signing on Jan. 16 2019 from Barra da Tijuca FC. The Brazilian finally found a home with Orlando City after four loan spells and now Orlando appears to be his new home after another solid year. Ruan had a good season, especially on the attacking front, helping to provide an outlet for his teammate, Chris Mueller, to shine brighter than he ever has.

How did the right back perform in his second campaign with the Lions?

Statistical Breakdown

Ruan was one of the mainstays for Oscar Pareja when available, manning his usual right back position. The 25-year-old made 21 appearances in the regular season, with 18 starts for a total of 1,597 minutes.

The Rio de Janeiro native has yet to score his first goal for the club. That said, he did manage an impressive four assists in the regular season. He took only seven shots, putting two on target. Additionally, he created 17 scoring chances, passed at an 80.3% rate, and had an average of 0.9 dribbles per game. He committed 19 fouls while suffering 27, picking up four yellow cards on the year. Defensively, he registered 39 tackles, 14 interceptions, 27 clearances, and two blocked shots.

Ruan also played in all four of Orlando’s MLS is Back Tournament knockout stage matches, starting all four and playing 353 minutes. He didn’t score or assist on a goal, and attempted only one shot which was off target. He passed at an 86.2% rate, creating three scoring chances. He finished the knockout stages with eight tackles, three interceptions, six clearances, and two blocks. Ruan committed seven fouls while drawing eight, and was booked twice. He did well over the course of the tournament and was named to the MLS is Back Tournament Best XI.

The speedster also made one MLS Cup playoff appearance for Orlando and was sent off against New York City FC, leaving the team without him for the Eastern Conference semifinal game against the New England Revolution. In his one playoff appearance, he started and played 87 minutes. He didn’t score or assist on a goal and did not attempt a shot. He created one scoring chance and passed at an 80% rate. Defensively, he finished with a tackle and an interception. He committed two fouls and drew two, earning a yellow card before seeing his red card late in the match.

Best Game

Ruan’s best match this season was Sept. 23 against Sporting Kansas City in the Lions’ 2-1 victory away from home. The Brazilian picked up an assist for a gorgeous pass to set up Tesho Akindele’s 36th-minute goal that opened the scoring.

Along with the direct goal contribution came a solid performance overall as well, as he completed 87% of his passes and he had three tackles, showing quality on both ends of the field despite some shakiness on one occasion, defensively. In that match, Ruan was given Man of the Match distinction.

Ruan is probably better known for his attacking help than his defensive play and he made an impact in this game, playing a nice ball through for Akindele’s opening goal. A quick one-two caught the speedster flat footed on one occasion, which could have resulted in a goal but the Lions survived. Other than that, he kept the opponents at bay and was better than Smith on the other side, matching Gerso’s speed down the wing.

2020 Final Grade

The 25-year-old speed demon earned a 6.5 from The Mane Land staff for 2020. That is the same grade he was given last season. Improvements could be made to improve that rating next season. While it’s easy to point at a lack of discipline in light of the way his season ended in a sending off, four yellow cards in 21 appearances isn’t bad for a starting fullback. Where his game suffers most is his inconsistent crossing quality, occasional decision-making issues, and lack of scoring threat. Being more willing to shoot should open up some passing lanes, as opponents are wise to his pass-first mentality.

Ruan helped get the best out of Mueller this season by giving his American teammate an option on the overlap and opponents usually couldn’t double-team both right-side players. While Ruan’s bombing runs forward can sometimes leave the Lions prone to counter attacks, it’s something Pareja is willing to live with and Ruan can often make up the ground with his speed to help break up transition opportunities.

2021 Outlook

Orlando City exercised its option on Ruan, so he’s expected back for the 2021 season. He could continue to be the man to fill the right back position for the long-term future if he polishes up some areas. He is one of the most dangerous right backs going forward in MLS and that trend should continue next season. Hopefully, the pacey 25-year-old can continue to show how much of a force he is on the attack while also ironing out some of his shortcomings. If that occurs, then a higher grade will most likely be achieved next season.

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