A tired but jubilant Christian Ramierz celebrates his two goals and a 4-2 victory over Real Salt Lake. Photo credit: Danial Mick

The Angle

Despite the Flu, Christian Ramirez Continues to Prove He Belongs in MLS

by on 2 April 2017

Slumped in a locker room chair, Christian Ramirez fielded questions from reporters. The Loons’ target forward was coming down quickly after the high of an emphatic 4-2 victory over Real Salt Lake — the team’s first MLS win. Despite having the flu, not sleeping much on Friday night, and then “throwing up from both areas of [his] body,” the soft-spoken Ramirez was even quieter than his normal self. But he was still smiling as he talked about his two goals and the victory.

“Adrian [Heath] told me before the game to make sure I tested [Nick] Rimando early,” said Ramirez. The Real Salt Lake goalkeeper had just gotten back to his team after an international call-up to the USMNT where he never saw game action. The Minnesota forward said he tried to send in some early shots, one of them low to Rimando’s left that the RSL keeper let slip under his hands before stopping it.

I’ve always carried a chip on my shoulder. I’ll continue to wear that on my sleeve, prove people wrong, and prove to myself that I belong at the top of that list of [MLS] strikers.
– Christian Ramirez

Despite the flu, Ramirez’s work rate was high throughout the game and pressed Rimando often. “I know if I can press up top, the guys will feed off that. It’s a big part of my game and I continue to work on that energy and spark,” explained Ramirez. “We work in practice on making it hard for the other team to play and that really led to a couple of goals tonight. We got in guys’ faces and made sure that when people come here it’s a tough place to play.”

Ramirez’s first goal game from some outstanding holdup play and then a layoff to Molino. The Loon forward spun off his defender and made a slicing run through the back line to be met with a perfect dissecting return pass from the Trinidadian. Ramirez lifted the ball over Rimando and into the net, showing off both his strong target player abilities and his finishing.

“As you guys know, I’m not your typical striker,” reflected Ramirez. “Everyone has their own style and I’m continuing to grow. If holding someone off like that didn’t show you that I’m working on my game, I’m not sure what will.”

Ramirez’ second goal was a gift from Rimando but wouldn’t have happened without his high field press. “I just thought it was a spinning, difficult ball that was going to his chest,” explained Ramirez. “I knew I had to put some sort of pressure on him.”

“As I said to Christian Ramirez, I’m a big believer in you get out of life what you put in,” said Coach Heath after the match. “The amount of work he’s put in, he deserves the goal he got when Rimando made a mistake. But without him challenging the keeper and running 30 yards to do that, he doesn’t get that opportunity.”

Coming into the season there were questions on whether Ramirez was good enough to bring his NASL goal-scoring form into MLS. With four goals in five games and sitting tied for the third-best goal scorer in the league, the striker is proving what he’s known all along. “I’ve always carried a chip on my shoulder. I’ll continue to wear that on my sleeve, prove people wrong and prove to myself that I belong at the top of that list of [MLS] strikers.”

Ramirez concluded, “Tonight things went my way. I love it when it goes my way.”

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  • nathan3e

    Nice one Brian.

  • Dave Benhart

    I hope he stays healthy and on form. Another 20 goal season may be in the works. He’s keep being fun to watch.

  • David Sterling

    There wasn’t a doubt in most of our minds he belonged in MLS. If he stays healthy, and this is a long season, he can finish top-5.

  • bartgott

    I really like his quote “If holding someone off like that didn’t show you that I’m working on my game, I’m not sure what will.” In previous years I’ve been concerned about how this part of his game would impact him at the next level. Based on the game Saturday, I’m starting to think that he will develop this into a recognized strength rather than a gap/liability. That, combined with his finishing, make him a huge asset for any team. With the service this team is able to provide I’m very excited to see how the rest of the year goes for him and if he can continue to show off this growth!

  • Clark Starr

    Not having seen a ton of NASL era Christian, I was skeptical (yes, unfair). But sweet baby jesus has he dispelled that. The hold play mentioned, the excellent runs, the hustle and the great finished. Saturday was one of the best live soccer experiences have had as a fan. Such a great vibe in the stadium. From head-in-the-hands, here-we-go-again when they scored in the 3rd minute to the embers of optimism when Shuttleworth made those saves, to a real sense that we’d prevail when we went up 2-1, then finally elation when we put the 3rd and 4th goals in.

    • Melissa Danner

      I was not skeptical of Ramirez – having watched him over the last 2 years, I knew that he would do fine in MLS. But I totally agree with you on the experience on Saturday night. I’ve been to quite a few incredible games in the NASL years, but this topped every one of them. The supporters were riotous, the crowd was invested, the play was excellent, and the atmosphere was ELECTRIC. I didn’t want the game to end and I hung around (along with pretty much everyone else!) after the whistl eblew because I didn’t want to leave the stadium. I was on a high for the next 24 hours – actually, I might still be on one! It’s what I had hoped for in our season opener, but I have no issues with it coming a game later. I hope that atmosphere continues for every game! The score line didn’t hurt, though, of course… 😀

  • Matt

    This is no one-trick pony. He can score so many different ways, as he is already showing in MLS. He is the real deal, and we are fortunate to have him on the team.

  • Nate Reichle

    I love imagining that the successes will keep coming and then getting to see Ramirez in the red, white, and blue for the Gold Cup when the USMNT will likely field a b squad.

    • Jacob

      If he keeps showing solid holdup play, combining so well, and finishing well, he’ll absolutely be in the Camp Cupcake mix. Once Dempsey and Wondo retire, I see Ramirez being in the second tier of forwards after Altidore, Woods and Morris–all of whom have dealt with injuries lately.

      Oh hey, I just checked out the American Soccer Now player rankings and Ramirez is #86 overall and #17 at forward as of February 25. Ahead of him? Wood, Altidore, Morris, Dempsey, Arriola, Wondo, Zardes, Arjo, Agudelo, Boyd, Mullins, Grella, Muyl, Pontius, Kiesewetter, Davies. Superman will leapfrog a whole bunch of those guys if he keeps playing like this, and a handful of them play more on the wing anyway. That’s firmly in the “let’s give him a look” territory when January rolls around.

      • Offensive Loons Fan

        I’ve been following the ASN ranking for a while and Christian actually used to be ranked higher. Hopefully good club form will boost that.