MINNEAPOLIS – Going into their inaugural MLS season, Minnesota United FC brought along a contingent of six players from their NASL roster in 2016.
However, none have taken to their new league as smoothly as Christian Ramirez. The striker who supporters lovingly call “Superman” has bagged four goals in his first five MLS games. That leaves him tied for third in the league’s Golden Boot race with Portland's Fanendo Adi and Diego Valeri, behind only Houston’s Erick “Cubo” Torres and Atlanta’s Josef Martinez.
As someone who’s faced detractors at nearly every step of his career, Ramirez is relieved to get into a scoring rhythm.
“I just go and do what I’m told, and try to find ways to put the ball in the back of the net,” Ramirez explained after Minnesota’s 4-2 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, their first MLS victory. “I’m not your typical striker. Everyone has their own style, and I’m continuing to grow.”
Ramirez netted a brace against RSL. The second was a poacher’s goal as he exploited Nick Rimando’s miscue. On the first, he muscled off defender Chris Wingert to bring down a long ball and accelerated past him to finish Kevin Molino’s pass.
“If holding someone off like that didn’t show you I’ve been working on my game,” said Ramirez, “I don’t know what will.”
All this came despite a case of the flu that had him on his back until arriving at TCF Bank Stadium. A former striker himself, head coach Adrian Heath offered high praise for the former NASL star.
“I told Christian, 'You get out of life what you put into it,'” Heath said during his post-game press conference. “The amount of work that he’s put in, he deserves the goal that he got. Rimando made a mistake, but without Ramirez running him down and charging, he doesn’t get the opportunity to do that.“
Each week, Ramirez trains against center back Francisco Calvo, a regular call-up for the Costa Rican national team. The Tico acknowledged Ramirez’s quality after the match.
“Ramirez is a really good striker,” the Loons’ captain told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s strong, he knows how to call for the ball and how to score. Christian is going to be improving every game and hopefully score for us every game.”