MONTREAL – During Christian Ramirez’s month-long injury absence, Abu Danladi emerged as a legitimate option up top for Minnesota United FC. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 SuperDraft found his footing while Ramirez was out, scoring three of his six goals in six straight starts.
Ramirez reclaimed his starting role on Saturday, but he couldn’t keep Danladi off the board. Both Loons strikers scored in Minnesota’s 3-2 win at Montreal, with Ramirez hitting the back of the net in the 60th minute before Danladi bagged the late game-winner after subbing on for Ramirez in the 65th.
"He's been playing fantastic these last five weeks so it's nice to see him get rewarded again," said Ramirez, who came on as a second-half sub in Minnesota's 3-0 loss at Vancouver last Wednesday in his return from injury. "He's got a couple more goals and he's got a bright future and he keeps his head down and keeps working. He's somebody I enjoy playing with and I told him to finish off the game when he came on and credit to him, he took one hell of a goal."
Danladi had gotten his pro career off to a bit of a rough start, scoring just twice in 14 games prior to his solid run of form in Ramirez’s stead.
"He's getting better and he's starting to the understand the importance of getting hold of the ball, not flicking it and losing it and thinking he looks clever," Loons coach Adrian Heath said. "[He's] starting to defend from the front a lot better, and the kid looks dangerous. He looked dangerous tonight when he came up."
Danladi said his rookie season has been a learning process, and that he is trying to soak up as much as he can from his more experienced teammates, including Ramirez.
"He's an incredible guy off the field, and on the field everybody knows his ability to be able to score goals," Danladi said. "I learn from him, we all learn from each other, and I'm glad he's back from injury and playing again, and I'm happy he scored today because that really helped us come back and I was able to come in and do what I could do as well."
Ramirez celebrated his goal by tucking the ball under his jersey and reaching down to kiss his belly. He confirmed after the game that he was happy to have the opportunity to reveal that he and his wife are expecting their first child.
"We've been waiting for it," Ramirez said. "I was hoping it would be at home, I didn't know if I'd get the start tonight, just because of the severity of my injury six or seven weeks ago. But it felt good, I felt good while I was out there, just my lungs gave out the 65th [minute] or so, so that was the most that I could be out there."