AP NEWS

Minnesota United’s Christian Ramirez to join U.S. men’s national team

January 8, 2018 GMT

After months of buzz, Minnesota United forward Christian Ramirez earned his first call-up to the U.S. national team Monday.

Ramirez is one of 30 call-ups who will report to the National Training Center in Carson, Calif., for the annual January camp beginning Thursday. The camp has traditionally been a chance for U.S. Soccer to bring in new potential talent for the national team.

“It’s a privilege to wear the colors of my country,” Ramirez said in a news release from Minnesota United. “It’s been a long road to get to this point and I’m excited to continue this journey and see where it takes me.”

Ramirez could earn his first cap, or national team appearance, in the squad’s next match, a Jan. 28 international friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina at StubHub Center in Carson.

Ramirez, a 26-year-old native of Garden Grove, Calif., joined the Loons in 2014 when the team played in the North American Soccer League. After making the jump with the club to MLS in 2017, he scored a team-high 14 goals with three assists, starting 27 games and appearing in 30 of 34 total.

Since 2014 he has tallied 67 goals in 125 games, which puts him behind just CJ Sapong of the Philadelphia Union and Jozy Altidore of Toronto FC for all U.S. strikers in that time period, according to United.

A fan favorite on the Loons, Ramirez is nicknamed Superman alongside best friend and Loons midfielder Miguel Ibarra, also known as Batman. Ibarra earned three caps for the U.S. in 2014-15 when playing in the second division with United. Loons winger Ethan Finlay also played for the U.S. three times in 2016.

U.S. Soccer is in a state of overhaul after the men’s team failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup this past fall. It was the first time since 1986 the U.S. had missed out on the tournament.

Coach Bruce Arena resigned in the wake of that failure, so his top assistant Dave Sarachan is in charge on an interim basis. The hiring of a new coach won’t likely happen until U.S. Soccer elects a new president Feb. 10 from a pool of eight candidates.