MLS Moves: Christian Ramirez's dreams are broken

Christian Ramirez isn't the first player to lose his starting job and he won't be the last as MLS teams change priorities and spending habits.

But he is different.

Ramirez's story is one of the great underdog stories in American soccer -- from NAIA star to MLS by way of the USL PRO and the NASL -- and he became one of the faces of Minnesota pro soccer, but after five seasons with Minnesota United, he was traded on Monday night.

Deal. Minnesota United sent him to LAFC for allocation money: $800,000 in GAM and TAM in 2018 and 2019 and up to $200,000 based on his performance with his new team.

Ramirez scored 21 goals in two MLS seasons for Minnesota United and won NASL scoring titles in 2014 and 2016. It's safe to say that Ramirez is a big reason for the Loons' success that ended with them being granted an MLS expansion team, but he became the odd-man out in the Loons' attack when they acquired Colombian Angelo Rodriguez as a Designated Player.

Ramirez scored two goals and added an assist when Minnesota United beat LAFC, 5-1, at home two weeks ago, but he didn't play on Saturday when the Loons blew a 1-0 lead and lost to Seattle, 2-1.

“I hope that I left a lasting impression of passion, smiles, winning and touched the younger generation here in Minnesota to continue to push this great state to levels that it’s yet to reach and will reach,” Ramirez wrote on his Instagram page. “I had dreams of never leaving. I never thought this day would come. It still doesn’t seem real. Minnesota became home, my wife and I started a family here and will forever have that in our hearts.”

Ramirez, 27, returns to Southern California, where he was born in Santa Ana to Colombian immigrants. He spent part of his youth in Colombia before returning to Garden Grove. He played two years at UC Santa Barbara but it wasn't until his move to Concordia Irvine, then an NAIA school, that he came into his own, scoring 18 goals in 2011 and 26 in 2012.

He wasn't drafted out of college but was seen by the Charlotte Eagles at a Seattle Sounders showcase camp in Las Vegas. After a season in USL PRO, Ramirez moved to the NASL, where he was named to the league's Best XI all three seasons with Minnesota. In 2018, Ramirez earned his first call-up to the U.S. national team, attending the January camp, but did not play in its match against Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Ramirez joins LAFC, which is in fourth place in the Western Conference and on course to become just the third expansion team to make the playoffs in the last decade.

How he'll fit in at LAFC remains to be seen. Its leading scorer is Norwegian Adama Diomande, who was injured in Sunday's 2-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls. It began the season with Costa Rican World Cup player Marco Urena in the middle with Mexican national team star Carlos Vela and young Uruguayan Diego Rossi beside him in the attack. It also acquired Lee Nguyen toward the close of MLS's primary transfer window.

Now with two days left in the secondary transfer window, LAFC has pounced to bring Ramirez home. The trade leaves the Loons with only three players with NASL roots: Brazilian Ibson, Minnesotan Brent Kallman and Miguel Ibarra, another California transplant who saluted Ramirez when he departed.

7 comments about "MLS Moves: Christian Ramirez's dreams are broken".
  1. charles davenport, August 7, 2018 at 7:39 a.m.

    Wasn't the MLS going to be a base for developing American national team players?
    Not the first proven entitiy to be surplanted with high priced foreign talent which may or may not make the grade.

  2. :: SilverRey :: replied, August 7, 2018 at 9:47 a.m.

    This is a very niaive statement considering a majority of every NT roster is developed by MLS year after year since '96.

    At the same time I fully agree that Garber's current DP policies, and lack of mandatory young player time are both detrimental to our future stars.

    It's not so black and white though, in the long term better competition raises the level of everyone. It's now on our young players to rise up to the challenge and win back some of these spots.

  3. R2 Dad replied, August 8, 2018 at 12:01 p.m.

    Pomposity much, Silver Rey? According to Wiki, not you, the most recent roster of our young hotshots lists 22 men, 4 of which play in MLS. And no, waiting around 60 years for the level of MLS to incrementally increase the quality is asinine.  The club, with their current players/coaches/managment, creates the environment into which new/young players integrate themselves. The tail does not wag the dog.

  4. R2 Dad replied, August 8, 2018 at 1:42 p.m.

    2014 world cup 23 - 9 men from MLS, including Clint and Bradley who did their development overseas.
    2010 world cup 23 - 5 men from MLS
    2006 world cup 23 - 11 men from MLS
    2002 world cup 23 - 11 men from MLS
    1998 world cup 22 - 16 men from MLS

    As MLS has evolved, they have added fewer and fewer players to the Nats World Cup player pool, as players run away for better development and better opportunities abroad.

  5. Ric Fonseca, August 7, 2018 at 12:51 p.m.

    To Christian Ramirez, welcome back to your roots!  As for the trade, it is obvious that Bradley saw something more positive in him, after he scored two against his team last week, soomething that Minnesota didn't see or were just too danged blind.  And yeah this is a business to make money, however, the Minnesota outfit tells me they value more a non-US-born player, than a player of Christian's background.  So to Chris, this is a blessing in disguise, and so welcome home!!!

  6. Craig Cummings, August 7, 2018 at 3 p.m.

    Christian Ramirez the pride of La Quinta HS in Westminster, OC, california. Where I played and coached. Just not with him but i did ref him.

  7. Bob Ashpole, August 10, 2018 at 11:36 a.m.

    I think making this a negative story is a mistake. Rosters change and players are traded, especially in MLS where teams have to constantly adjust to meet salary caps. 

    I see this as a positive story for the player. In January, Southern California is going to seem like a great place compared to 20 below zero in Minnesota.

    LAFC is not going to be satisfied with just making the playoffs. There will be opportunities there for Ramirez to play and improve.

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