Charlotte’s Major League Soccer signs first professional player

Charlotte’s Major League Soccer signs first professional player
An employee hands out MLS scarves for patrons of Brewers at 4001 Yancey in Charlotte, NC on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. The celebration followed the official announcement of Charlotte becoming the 30th city to have Major League Soccer. (Source: JOSHUA KOMER THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte Major League Soccer has signed 25-year-old Spanish midfielder Sergio Ruiz as its first-ever professional player. The league, who says they’ve been scouting Ruiz for months, made the announcement Wednesday.

Ruiz is arriving as a transfer from Spanish second division side Racing Santander. His signing came during MLS’ two-day transfer window.

Ruiz, who MLS leaders say has adapted well in different roles, represented Racing the past three seasons after graduating from its reserve team in 2016. Ruiz’s six goals and seven assists in the 2018-19 campaign helped earn Racing promotion to the Spanish Second Division, MLS says. He represented Racing as captain.

“We are laying down the foundations of a competitive and winning team, and Ruiz is the ideal player to start with,” Charlotte MLS Sporting Director Zoran Krneta says. “We’ve been scouting him for several months. He is a natural leader and an intelligent, versatile midfielder, who will be joining Charlotte MLS in his prime. We are very pleased that he has decided to join us.”

MLS describes Ruiz as a technical midfielder who reads the game well. He played 31 times in Racing’s 2019-20 campaign.

“We are looking forward to seeing him represent us,” MLS says.

Ruiz will occupy one of Charlotte MLS’s eight international roster slots. He will be loaned out until Charlotte MLS begins play to maintain match fitness.

“I am so happy and am really looking forward to arriving in Charlotte,” said Ruiz. “It’s an exciting project and a dream for me. I am committed to do my best and make the club and its fans feel really proud.”

 Major League Soccer officially announced that Charlotte would be the home of the league’s 30th team in December.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber joined Panthers owner David Tepper and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles for the special announcement at the Mint Museum in uptown Charlotte.

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