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MLS new club Charlotte signs Spanish midfielder Sergio Ruiz

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Spanish midfielder Sergio Ruiz became the first player to sign a contract with Charlotte MLS, the expansion franchise announced Wednesday.

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Ruiz, 25, served as the captain of second division side Racing Santander. He'll join a Charlotte MLS team that has yet to reveal its nickname or team colors.

"We are laying down the foundations of a competitive and winning team, and Ruiz is the ideal player to start with," Charlotte MLS sporting director Zoran Krneta said in a statement. "We've been scouting him for several months. He is a natural leader and an intelligent, versatile midfielder, who will be joining Charlotte MLS in his prime. I'm very pleased that he has decided to join us."

Ruiz collected six goals and seven assists in 2018-19 for Racing Santander. He made 31 appearances for the club the following season.

"I am so happy and am really looking forward to arriving in Charlotte," Ruiz said. "It's an exciting project and a dream for me. I am committed to do my best and make the club and its fans feel really proud."

Charlotte and Austin FC will become the league's 27th and 28th teams beginning with the 2021 season. Clubs in Sacramento and St. Louis will join in 2022.