The record of 52 goals currently sits with Christian Ramirez’s former teammate, Pablo Campos (currently with Miami FC). Campos scored most of those goals at a rate similar to Ramirez’s. He burned through the NASL with 45 goals in three years. The MCL injury that took Campos out of most of the 2014 season put his goal-scoring tear on halt and he has struggled for minutes since moving to Miami.
Ironically, it was the same injury that would launch Ramirez into the limelight. When Christian came to Minnesota, he was expected to be a squad player, fighting for minutes behind the Loons’ marquee player, Pablo Campos. When Campos went down during a preseason trip to England, Ramirez was the only out-and-out striker left (Simone Bracalello played mostly on the wings). Just twenty minutes into his first league match, though, Ramirez announced himself on the scene with a spectacular move — holding off his defender before wheeling the ball around and into the top corner.
Ramirez went on to score 20 goals in his first season as a Loon, earning the Golden Boot. He missed out on the Golden Ball to his best friend Miguel Ibarra, who also made a name for himself that year.
In 2015, Christian saw his starts limited as he and the team struggled in the spring, but by the fall season, he and — not coincidentally — his club began scoring goals in spades. In all, Ramirez has scored a goal every 130 minutes of play, compared to Pablo Campos one every 152 minutes.
Minnesota United FC’s sporting director, Manny Lagos, originally brought Ramirez to the club. Asked about Christian’s goal-scoring ability, Lagos says, “Christian has a base [of skill] because of his technical and tactical acumen to put himself in spots to score and execute the chances he gets.” And since Ramirez has come to the club, Lagos has been surprised on multiple occasions at the striker’s growth as a player. It’s not just his goal-scoring, Lagos says, but Ramirez has evolved in his movement off the ball and his combination-play with his teammates.
Over the weekend, Ramirez scored his 44th goal, the culmination of a 29-pass sequence from his teammates. He made an incisive run to the near post before sending the ball to the far post.
It looks unlikely that Ramirez will be playing in the NASL in 2017 and this will be his chance to lay down a marker. Ramirez is only under contract with Minnesota United FC until the end of the season (the club holds an option, but if it moves to MLS, this is a moot point) and the club seems reluctant to discuss a long-term contract (as well as a significant pay-raise) until their MLS fate is secured. While Lagos does not want to talk about anything related to MLS, he did say, “Christian has been an important part of this club. We’re excited about him and his future.”
Ramirez has already had interest from several Liga MX clubs and if Minnesota don’t bring him back for their MLS debut (which would be very surprising) there are likely several MLS clubs that would be willing to take a chance on a player with a nose for the goal.