CHARLOTTE – Today’s start was a long time coming for Charlotte FC’s first-ever signing, Sergio Ruiz. After taking a hiatus from soccer to focus on his mental health, Ruiz has battled through adversity and made his first start in months.
“It’s been a long time since my last start, which was September 5th, so it was very special for me to play today especially with us getting a victory. I’m feeling tired,” Sergio laughs, “but I’m really happy.
“I feel really comfortable with my teammates on the pitch, and with the fans who are always supporting us. I’m really happy and grateful, this is only the beginning for us. We have a lot of time to improve our level and ensure that we can do better than right now."
While the scoreline showed 2 – 0, it was a hard-fought battle to the very end for CLTFC. But Ruiz says that the team’s ability to fight until the last whistle is a part of their identity.
“The match was very difficult overall, it was windy, the opponent was a good team, with good players. But the team played with a lot of commitment and hard work, which is the identity of this team. Everyone runs, is focused on the same, so we have to continue on this path to keep getting victories.
“I think one of the biggest strengths of this team is that we have a lot of quality, we are all prepared to play, we all know we will have our opportunities and I think you can notice it on the pitch.
“You can feel the camaraderie on the pitch, despite us all playing together for the first time, coming from all over the world, we are unified. We have an incredible group of humans and it’s being reflected on the pitch. Doesn’t matter who plays, we always have quality, and that’s a testament of our core.”
As head coach Miguel Ramírez has been preaching this past week, Ruiz thinks it’s important to stay present and not get ahead of themselves when it comes to the aspirations of making playoffs.
“I think the team has competed in every one of our matches, despite the results. Of course, we want to win, but we need to focus on what is in our control, which is how we train and the energy and effort we bring to the pitch.”
“We all want to make playoffs, but how we accomplish that is by focusing and winning next week’s game, then the one after that, and the one after that. So, for now, we focus and train hard this week to try and get the win in our next match.”