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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