Minnesota United forward Christian Ramirez 'pretty happy' about hamstring progress
LOS ANGELES — One of three photos included in a tweet from Minnesota United on Monday, May 7, created a stir as the club was traveling to the West Coast for Wednesday's game against Los Angeles Football Club.
No, it wasn't fullback Jerome Thiesson wearing aviators while inside the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The intrigue came with forward Christian Ramirez, who was pictured among other players in the terminal. It was a bit of a surprise because he injured his right hamstring 30 minutes into the 2-1 win over Houston on April 28 and was out for the 1-0 win over Vancouver on Saturday.
Ramirez participated in the Loons' light training session at UCLA on Monday as one of 19 players on the trip, meaning one player will be left off the game-day lineup for Minnesota (4-5) against expansion franchise LAFC (5-2-1) at 9:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium.
When Ramirez injured his left hamstring last season, he also traveled with Minnesota on road trips to maintain his rehab routine. He said it aids his recoveries.
But with Mason Toye (red card suspension) and Abu Danladi (right ankle) back in Minnesota, there's a glaring void at the top of Minnesota's attack if Ramirez doesn't return. Coach Adrian Heath is expected to address the striker spot after Tuesday's training session.
Ramirez has received positive reports since injuring his leg. He said the initial diagnosis on April 29 wasn't severe. He passed a tougher running test before the Whitecaps game, and he hasn't aggravated the muscle when striking a ball, which was how he injured it in the first place.
"Pretty happy about it," Ramirez said. "Just taking the time to strengthen it and get it right, not trying to rush it. We'll see what (Heath) has in store for Wednesday.
"Yeah, it's a possibility for sure," Ramirez added, but he said part of it depends on how his leg responds Tuesday.
Ramirez, a Garden Grove, Calif., native, estimated he will have about 15 family members and friends in the stands Wednesday.
Ibson Barreto da Silva, who leads Minnesota United with 787 minutes through nine games this season, did not travel with the club to L.A. The 34-year-old midfielder will be rested while the Loons play their second of three games in an eight-day span.
Ibson played 90 minutes against Vancouver last weekend, and United returns home to play San Jose at 1 p.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
With Toye already out, Minnesota was assured a different starting line-up for a seventh straight game this season. The Loons have used the same lineup in consecutive games only once this season on March 10-17, a two-game winning streak that matches their current form.
Across nine games in 2018, United has averaged three changes per match.