It’s been a whirlwind month for David Ruiz. While most teens in South Florida were busy planning their summer vacations, Ruiz signed a Major League Soccer contract, and then agreed to play in a marquee international tournament that others can only dream of.
Not bad for a 19-year-old.
In April, Ruiz became the sixth player in Inter Miami CF’s team history to make the MLS roster by way of the franchise’s youth academy in Ft. Lauderdale. He never imagined, growing up in Little Havana, that before his 20th birthday, he would be on the field at DRV PNK Stadium taking on the best of the MLS for his hometown team.
But there the midfielder was, center stage last Saturday night, in front of 17,349 fans, including family and friends. And he delivered, registering the first goal and first assist of his MLS career, as Inter Miami defeated the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution, 2-1.
“What an unbelievable match. First goal, first assist, first red card. It was an amazing experience,” a smiling Ruiz said Saturday in his postgame press conference. “I have to be grateful for all of my teammates and the coaching staff that has supported me throughout this journey. I’m ready to keep going.”
And as much as Inter Miami’s staff would like to keep him in the lineup, the club has allowed Ruiz to continue his journey elsewhere, all the way to Argentina, in fact. That’s where he will play for Honduras in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup this month.
Perhaps setting the stage for an appearance in the FIFA World Cup in 2026, the Under-20 version is the most important championship to Ruiz this year. Very few players get the call to perform and represent a country on that incredible world stage. And Inter Miami coach Phil Neville understands that.
“We considered all angles. We have high hopes for him. All of the sudden, he’s become an important player,” Neville said. “But I think with young players, you have to look at the long term, and his development. We know that he’s so proud to go there for his country. And I wasn’t fortunate to go to a World Cup (as a player), so I was never going to take that opportunity away from him.”
Saturday’s victory was the fifth MLS appearance for Ruiz, experience that should help him in Argentina. After substituting into the lineup for three games, Ruiz received his first MLS start on May 6 in a 2-1 Inter Miami CF victory over Atlanta United. He followed that up with his grand sendoff overseas on Saturday night.
“We’ve always believed in him. He was fast-tracked, and in the games that he’s played, he’s been really sensational,” Neville said. “He is a kid that plays without fear. He’s still raw and rough around the edges, but I think it’s infectious, what he brings.”
Ruiz’s deal with Inter Miami runs through the 2025 season, and it includes options for the 2026 and 2027 seasons, as well.
“I was very concentrated on what my role was, and what I was supposed to do. We just stuck to the plan, and I feel like we’re very comfortable out there,” he said after his starting debut. “I was just playing like it was a normal game.”
Growing up in the game, Ruiz represented both the United States and Honduras at several levels. He was a member of a Team USA club in an under-19 championship tournament in January before being named to the Honduras Under-20 roster.
Tournament play begins on Saturday in Argentina, and Ruiz’s first game with Honduras will be on May 22 against Gambia. In Honduras’ group category, Ruiz will also face the likes of France on May 25, and Korea on May 28.
“It’s exciting for the club, and that’s why we invest in the academy. We want to develop our own players and give opportunities to young players,” Neville said. “So, I’m pleased, and David is doing really well.”
Ruiz is one of five midfielders on Team Honduras, and the only player born outside of the country. He is excited to demonstrate what he is capable of, and fresh off Saturday’s memorable effort, his MLS coaching staff is confident he’ll make the most of his opportunity.
“We are delighted about it. We want our best players to be playing on the biggest stages,” Neville said. “So, we are proud of him. But we will lose a player, and that means that players must step up. Players have to be ready.”
Inter Miami, which has won three in a row to improve to 5-6-0, will begin its stretch without Ruiz tonight, Wednesday, against Nashville SC (5-4-3).