SANFORD, Fla. – Ruan Teixeira knew early on he possessed a rare gift.
He was 6 years old, playing soccer in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, when his speed first stood out.
From that point on, Orlando City SC’s right back used it to his advantage.
“Once I knew what I had, I saw my speed and pace as an opportunity,” Ruan told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “I was usually the first to get chosen during pick-up games because of my speed, so I always used it to my advantage whether it was playing soccer or playing kid games like cops and robbers – where I was usually the chaser.”
Ruan, 23, signed a one-year deal with Orlando City in January, his pace attracting the attention of the Lions – most specifically Orlando’s director of scouting Ricardo Moreira.
“Ruan is a guy I’ve been following since a year and a half ago,” Moreira told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s something I like to do – speaking with the coaches and seeing what kind of characteristics matters the most in a player … and one of the things that James [O’Connor] wanted for this position, specifically, was speed.”
Moreira then set out to Brazil to give Ruan one last look, and eventually returned to the United States with another player to add to the Lions’ roster ahead of the 2019 season.
“I had Ruan in my database of players I’ve been scouting, which is a matter of scouting him deeper,” said Moreira, “talking to people and understanding the player and understanding the scenarios involved. We also already knew he was a great guy, person and a great teammate in the locker room. Everything matched — his characteristics and what James wanted.”
So far Ruan has appeared 11 times and started in 10 games and recording two assists for the Lions. His most recent came against FC Cincinnati on Sunday, when he made a speedy run down the right flank, beating Kendall Waston to set up one of Nani’s two goals in a 5-1 rout.
Is he the fastest player in the league?
“A lot of people tell me I’m the fastest player in MLS, but I haven’t played against all the other teams,” said Ruan. “I don’t know the characteristics of the other players, if they’re faster than I am. But I like to believe I’m the fastest in MLS.”
It’s been a solid start to life abriad for a hard-working player who has long dreamed of moving overseas.
“Growing up, every kid in Brazil dreams of one day playing abroad,” he said. “And playing here in the United States, it was an opportunity and a dream I had to grab as soon as it came.”