Minnesota United star forward Christian Ramirez from the North American Soccer League (NASL) spoke with Kevin Torres from FutnSoccer regarding his progression as a professional soccer player. Ramirez has enjoyed a successful first season campaign with The Loons in which he leads the league with 19 goals and has made 5 assists. The young striker is two goals away from breaking the all-time NASL single season scoring record, and is one of the most promising United States talents entering the Russia 2018 World Cup campaign.
The striker has had a tremendous season with his current club which even has him in contention to win the NASL Young Player of the Year 2014 award. However, his current form has not come easily, and in this interview Ramirez tells the road taken to achieve his success.
— The Loon Call (@thelooncall) October 27, 2014
FutnSoccer Interview : Christian Ramirez
FutnSoccer: Who is Christian Ramirez?
Christian Ramirez (Jersey #21): I am a 23 year old forward for Minnesota United from the NASL. I am Colombian-American, born in Southern California. My measurements are 6 foot 2 inches, and weight 190 lbs.
FnS: What are your strengths as a soccer player?
CR21: I am right footed, tall, with not much speed, but with a lot of strength, and vision. People compare me to other talents which score goals for being at the right place at the right time. So, I have great vision as a goal scorer which in the past may have described me as a type of poacher. However, I do not consider myself selfish on the field, and more recently I have been more involved in playmaking.
FnS: Where do your roots as a soccer player begin?
CR21: I was born in the United States but I lived in Colombia from age 1 through 7. In Colombia my father played soccer but his career was cut short due to injuries. So in a way, I am chasing my father’s dreams. When I returned to the USA, I played club soccer for the Irvine Strikers for 6 years until I was 17. I also played in high school during my freshman and sophomore years for La Quinta High School. Shortly after high school I was recruited by the UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara).
FnS: Who were your childhood idols?
CR21: My three favorites are Totti, Kaka, and Brazil’s Ronaldo. Growing up I played midfield so I looked up to Kaka and Totti, but scoring goals lead me to like Ronaldo.
FnS: What made you decide to join UCSB? Was it the location, their rank as a soccer powerhouse?
CR21: Knowing they were a soccer powerhouse for the NCAA, knowing they had the most loyal fans filling their stadium often, and its location made me decide to go to Santa Barbara.
“If I didn’t find the love, I wouldn’t continue playing.” – CR21
FnS: UCSB seemed like a great option, so what made you leave?
CR21: I played there for two seasons, however, I felt like I did not fit into the coach’s plan. Not fitting into their system affected my style of play, and I felt it was a bad time for me in terms of playing soccer. I did not have much playing time, I had lost my love for the game, and consequently, numerous times I felt like quitting playing the sport that I had loved. If I didn’t find the love, I wouldn’t continue playing.
FnS: After leaving UCSB, you returned home. What followed?
CR21: I joined the Orange County Blue Star where I played because it was close to home. Shortly after, I decided to remain playing soccer with Concordia University from Irvine, CA. The team had one of the coaches (Mike Oseguera) I met while playing with the OC Blue Star. Mike promised to help me find the love for the sport that I had lost. He knew my playing style, so I fit in adequately in Concordia. There my love for the game was reborn and in two seasons I scored 44 goals and had 19 assists.
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUnitedFC) October 28, 2014
FnS: How did your journey into higher tier leagues proceed?
CR21: After my good seasons in Concordia, I was offered a trial with the Charlotte Eagles from the USL. I had to raise my own money to travel across the nation in order to tryout with them. My time there went well and I signed three days after I returned home.
FnS: By playing in Charlotte, how did it help you move into your current club?
CR21: In my year with Charlotte we reached the final which we unfortunately lost. Losing that final was painful for me, but it was also a great experience as it was the first time I played in a game of that magnitude. It showed me to how be a professional, and the pressure from that season allowed me take great care of my body.
I signed with Minnesota United following my season with the Eagles for various reasons. My friend Miguel Ibarra who already played for them told me great things about the team. Having a familiar face there helped me to make my decision easier, although I also had other things in mind.
After playing in the final with Charlotte, I again wanted to experience being part of a top team which would compete for a championship run. I was excited with the idea of experiencing that again and I felt Minnesota was the right place for that.
“I had to raise my own money to travel across the nation in order to tryout with them.” – CR21
In Part 2 of the interview to be published next week, Christian Ramirez talks about his current form with Minnesota United and his team’s approach to winning the NASL championship title. Ramirez answers questions as to what it means to him that USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann mentioned him in an interview regarding prospects ahead of the campaign towards the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018, his current goals, and his future plans.