It has been long-awaited and highly-anticipated amongst Minnesota United circles for sometime now, even dating back to when the club was in the North American Soccer League, but it’s finally come to fruition: Loons forward Christian Ramirez has received a call up to the United States men’s national team.
In the fallout of the U.S. horrendously missing out on the 2018 World Cup this summer, the USMNT brass are attempting to unearth a new crop of players and therefore selected a range of domestic players that are either extremely young or have been overlooked.
Across the board, this group of players has one thing in common: minimal to zero international experience.
This is the ideal type of opportunity for a player like Ramirez, whose lack of bluechip resume has led to him being passed over countless times. Prior to coming up to MLS with Minnesota United, Ramirez was often overlooked by the first division while playing in the second division, where during a three-year span he led the league in scoring twice and in the other year finished second. You’d think a prospect with that potent a record would be a white-hot commodity — but apparently not to the cutting-edge minds of U.S.’s top league.
Yes, during that span there were reports of MLS interest, but nothing decisive.
At times, Ramirez’s game doesn’t flash because he doesn’t have electric pace and can’t dribble someone out of their jockstrap. But when it comes to putting the ball in the net — his game screams quality.
Maybe the most intriguing thing about this camp call for the 26-year-old is the group of forwards he’ll be competing against. None of the other six forwards stands head and shoulders above Ramirez. In fact, you could argue he’s the most promising option.
MLS senior writer Matthew Doyle called it an “open competition” when referencing the six forward slots, which included Ramirez along with C.J. Sapong, Dom Dwyer, Juan Agudelo, Rubio Rubin and Jordan Morris. Sapong scored the most goals of anyone in that group with 16 last year, but he’s 29 years old and would be 33 come 2022. Ramirez’s tally of 14 was second best amongst this group and he was playing in his first MLS season and doing so with an expansion franchise.
On Ramirez specifically, Doyle added, “[He] is obviously the ‘let’s see if what he’s got can translate’ newcomer. He won multiple golden boots in the second-tier NASL before jumping to MLS last year and hardly missing a beat. Goalscorers get goals.”
United adds another attacking midfielder
Minnesota announced Tuesday that the club had signed Cameroon international Frantz Pangop.
From the sounds of it Pangop, 24, is yet another winger/attacking midfielder, which seems a bit odd with the litany of such players already acquired by head coach Adrian Heath. Pangop is joined in the sector of the squad by Ethan Finlay, Miguel Ibarra, Sam Nicholson, Kevin Molino and Abu Danladi. Although, it could be argued that Molino is designated to be the team’s No. 10 and Danladi is the primary backup to the aforementioned Ramirez. That would mean the math works out to four players for two outside mid positions, and that’s standard depth procedure for any professional team.
“Pangop is quick, dynamic and has the skill to create and score goals –– he’ll get people out of their seats,” Minnesota United assistant coach Ian Fuller said in a release. “His movement is really positive, with and without the ball, and his national team experience will also be beneficial.”