by Ryan Bailey

Charlotte FC’s first-ever signing progressed directly into the first team at the start of his loan spell with UD Las Palmas

CHARLOTTE — Until he makes his Charlotte Football Club debut in 2022, Sergio Ruiz will be playing with Las Palmas in the Spanish second division.

The midfielder’s loan spell is off to a successful start. Despite having less than two weeks of pre-season with his new side, he was selected to start in the opening game on Saturday.

“I’m really satisfied with my debut,” says Ruiz. “I felt fine physically, but I have to improve because I had only been training with the team for about 10 days. The team played well against a very difficult opponent.”

Las Palmas started their campaign with one of the most challenging fixtures they will likely face this season: a road trip to Leganes. The Madrid-based team played in Spain’s top division last season, where they took points from city neighbors Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. The strength of the opponent was compounded by 91-degree heat at game time.

In a close contest, Las Palmas suffered a 1-0 defeat, but Ruiz impressed in his 81 minutes on the field. According to statistics compiled by FotMob, the 25-year-old enjoyed 86 percent pass completion, and won 11 of his 13 duels. His Match Rating of 7.3 was the highest of any starting player for the visitors.

Las Palmas is coached by former Premier League manager Pepe Mel. They signed seven new players in the closed season, which makes Ruiz’s immediate assimilation into the first team even more impressive.

“I am very happy to be able to play for Las Palmas,” says Ruiz. “It’s a historical team with high-quality players. Let’s hope we have a good year!”

 

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Feliz por mi debut con la @udlaspalmasoficial 💛 pese a la derrota! . A seguir! 💪

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Ruiz started for Las Palmas in his natural defensive midfield position. In the 71st minute, central defender Aythami Artiles was sent off for a second bookable offense, which forced Coach Mel to change his 4-1-4-1 formation, and eventually substitute Ruiz. Three minutes after the destabilising red card, Las Palmas conceded the only goal of the game.

“The second division in Spain is extremely competitive, and the season is long,” says Ruiz. “I’m adapting to a new system and the club is helping me a lot.”

Previously, Ruiz played at Racing Santander on Spain’s northern coast. Las Palmas is based in the idyllic Canary Islands, over 800 miles south of the Spanish mainland. His new dayjob, therefore, boasts an enviable climate and picturesque vistas.

“Life in Las Palmas is very good,” says Ruiz. “The weather is excellent and so is the quality of life. The people here are really nice and I can certainly enjoy the beaches and the sun!

“The idea for ​​Charlotte FC was always for me to play my loan spell in either Spain or England. I am very happy here.”

Ruiz’s adventure with Las Palmas is only just beginning, but he is already looking ahead to his debut with Charlotte FC.

“Playing for Charlotte FC, a new franchise, is a challenge that motivates me a lot,” says Ruiz. “I am proud to be the first signing and I am looking forward to starting to play with the team.

“MLS is a growth league and many top players in Spain would like to play there. I feel very lucky.”

Next up for Las Palmas is their season home opener on Sunday, Sept. 20. They face Fuenlabrada, who was promoted to the Spanish second division last season.