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
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.