Orlando City made a surprise trade this afternoon, sending starting right back Ruan to D.C. United in exchange for the No. 2 overall selection in today’s 2023 MLS SuperDraft, set to get underway in less than an hour. The trade gives the Lions the No. 2, 6, and 17 overall selection in the first round of today’s draft.
“Ruan has been an incredibly important member of our project with the club over the last four years and we want to thank him for all of his hard work and effort,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “We wish him nothing but the very best and look forward to seeing all he achieves in this next chapter.”
The speedy, 27-year-old Brazilian joined Orlando City on Jan. 16, 2019 from Rio de Janeiro Serie B side Barra da Tijuca FC. A journeyman before arriving in the City Beautiful, Ruan had found a home with the Lions, starting the past three seasons at right back. He signed a new deal in December 2021 through the 2023 season with an option year for 2024. That deal is now D.C.’s.
In MLS play, Ruan has played in 101 games (91 starts) and has provided four goals and 15 assists. He has also appeared in 16 other competitive matches for the Lions.
His play each season in Orlando has slipped slightly, so it might be time for Ruan to get a fresh start with a new team. Ruan often played like an agent of chaos, and you never knew if his good plays would outweigh questionable decisions, poor touches, bad crosses, and/or lapses in defensive attentiveness. On his good days, Ruan could completely change games and help Orlando City pin opponents in their own end.
Orlando City has coverage at right back in Kyle Smith, Mikey Halliday, and Alex Freeman. Whether the team is going to elevate Halliday or Smith to starter or look for a new starter remains to be seen.
What It Means for Orlando City
Simply put, the Lions will have to adjust the way they play. With the blazing fast Ruan on the right, Orlando City’s offensive alignment often looked like a three-man back line with an overload on the right side with Ruan pushed forward and playing off of Facundo Torres. Unless the Lions bring in a new player with that kind of pace, the alignment will likely look a bit different in a post-Ruan world.
While the club will miss his ability to jumpstart transition plays with his speed, Ruan’s unpredictability could be frustrating. Many a good counter-attack was ruined by a poor Ruan pass at the end, but on the other hand, a lot of those counter attacks may never have happened without his ability to beat a man with his pace. The Orlando offense might be less high-risk, high-reward with a new player on the right side of the back line.
Orlando City, if not done dealing, now has two picks in the top six of today’s draft, which includes eight Generation Adidas players. The Lions could add two of the best available players in the draft in those spots. Orlando will also pick 17th in the first round, so this is a good opportunity for City to find multiple starters from the draft or move picks for a player.
With needs at forward, midfield, and fullback, Orlando’s activities in today’s MLS SuperDraft will be interesting to watch. City has four total picks in the draft — No. 2, 6, 17, and 46. The Lions do not have a third-round pick this year due to swapping it in a previous transaction to acquire an international slot from Montreal back in January.