Sergio Ruiz, Charlotte FC’s first-ever signing, had been among UD Las Palmas’ best players while on loan until his new club’s expansion season in MLS.
Though performances on the pitch were going very well, not everything was perfect.
Last week, the Segunda Division side announced Ruiz was taking a leave of absence to focus on his mental health.
Immediately, Charlotte signaled their intention to provide every resource necessary to help and support him. And head coach Miguel Ramirez echoed that sentiment on Thursday.
“It’s important for all of us to know that it’s OK to not be OK,” Ramirez told media during a virtual press conference. “The most important thing for us is to show Sergio a lot of love. Sergio the person is more important than Sergio the player. He knows we’re here and that he can count on us.”
Las Palmas play on Spain's Canary Islands, which is also where Ramirez is from. Ruiz has now returned to his home city of Santander, where he is with his family.
Ramirez and Ruiz have spoken, but Ramirez says he doesn’t want to be overbearing.
“I’ve had conversations with Sergio to let him know I’m here, that Charlotte FC are here to help him with whatever he needs,” Ramirez said. “That’s it.”
Ruiz, 26, had five goals and six assists while making 37 Segunda Division appearances last season. The new campaign, which began in August, hasn’t gone as smoothly. He contracted COVID-19 over the summer and then dealt with a foot injury that limited him to six games in the current league season.
“He made the most difficult and most important step to realize he was having a problem,” Ramirez said. “That’s the most important step.”