CCL Preview: Galaxy meet old friend in Motagua's Ramírez
CARSON, Calif. — Guillermo “Pando” Ramírez is one of the most perplexing players in LA Galaxy history.
His lone season in Los Angeles was mostly a bust, as he scored just one goal during the 2005 regular season. However, Ramírez hit perhaps one of the most skillful, and certainly one of the most important goals in Galaxy history when he volleyed in the game-winner at MLS Cup 2005.
Ramírez will finally return to the Home Depot Center when his Motagua side visit the LA Galaxy in the first CONCACAF Champions League group match for both teams on Tuesday (12:30 am ET, Fox Soccer delay, live at 10 pm on www.concacaf.com).
READ: GROUP A PREVIEW
“He’s a pretty good guy, always has a smile on his face,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant (pictured above, behind Ramírez and Luís Figo) said of his former teammate. “I enjoyed Pando, so it will be fun to go against him. He’s an aggressive player. I remember when he hacked down [Zinedine] Zidane out of nowhere against Real Madrid [in a 2005 friendly]. That got the attention of their team and it kind of woke them up a little bit.”
Dunivant, Ramírez and Landon Donovan all helped the Galaxy win the double in 2005. Dunivant led the team in minutes while "Pando" led the team — and all of MLS — in shots, yet managed to score just once before his majestic goal at Pizza Hut Park. The regular-season goal, meanwhile, was hardly highlight-reel material: Ramírez hit a penalty kick that bounced off the post, off Joe Cannon’s back and across the goal line in a win over Colorado.
But Ramírez just had a bad season, teammates said. The same talents he had before and after were there in ’05, although they did not surface very much.
“He’s a goal-scorer, there’s no question about it," Dunivant said. "He didn’t score a lot of goals for us, but he scored the most important one. That was a goal-scorer’s goal. That ball bounced out to him to the top of the box and he absolutely smashed it through about six guys. That was a great memory, something we’ll always remember.”
Ramírez, however, is not the only former MLSer on Motagua’s squad. Amado Guevara (ex-New York, Chivas USA, Toronto FC) captains the side while Iván Guerrero (ex-Chicago, D.C. United, San Jose, Colorado) is also on the roster.
Like Ramírez, Guevara was a highly-touted import from Central America, but "El Lobo" delivered, winning the 2004 MLS Most Valuable Player award. Both Dunivant and Mike Magee played with Guevara and are familiar with what sorts of attributes the Honduran brings.
“First and foremost, he’s a great guy," Magee said. "When he first came into the league, we came in around the same time and he was a great guy to have in the locker room and a great guy to learn from. His soccer IQ is second to none. He’s obviously not in his prime, he’s getting a little older. He’s extremely smart so he’s definitely going to have that team ready.”
Magee and Guevara spent the first four seasons of their respective MLS careers together before Guevara was dealt in a blockbuster move to Chivas USA after the 2006 season. However, he lasted just four games there and was shipped to Toronto and wound up playing some time there with Dunivant.
Perhaps the constant movement in the last part of his MLS days will give Guevara motivation to show what he is still capable of.
“He’s the captain of that team and he was the captain for us at New York at times as well,” Magee said. “He definitely has a chip on his shoulder playing against MLS teams. He knows how the league works.”
Having familiar faces on the opposing squad lets Galaxy players know a little of what to expect, but it also gives Motagua some insight on the club that they may normally not have. Does that benefit any side, then?
“Sometimes when you play these teams, you have no idea,” Magee said. “It’s hard to scout them and it’s hard to know their style of play because you haven’t seen them before, so obviously it’s going to help us. But having said that, they get to tell their entire team exactly how our league works and Amado knows a lot of the players on our team. There are going to be no advantages.”