Professional athletes are pretty savvy. They understand the nature of sports, and that the business results in players switching teams frequently. But that doesn’t prepare you to watch your new team in a penalty shootout with a chance to go to a final less than 48 hours after you’ve been traded.
Joining LAFC just hours before the Club's U.S. Open Cup semifinal in Houston, Christian Ramirez found himself thrust into a situation he’d never imagined being in.
“I didn’t know what to expect watching it. Just started to watch for tendencies of players as the match is going on, then I realized I got caught up in the match,” Ramirez said after his first training session at the LAFC Performance Center. “I got lost in what was going on, because it was a 3-3 game.”
“If they continue to believe in what we do, and we continue to improve and work. We’ll get rewarded.”— LAFC (@LAFC) August 9, 2018
Not the result we wanted, but plenty to build on. pic.twitter.com/2nBlGPRfuo
Ramirez spent four-plus seasons with Minnesota United before LAFC traded for the forward on August 6. A native of Southern California, he arrived at LAX airport on Wednesday with just enough time to settle in before his new squad’s shot at its first final in Club history.
Cup-tied for 2018’s edition of the Open Cup after playing for Minnesota in a previous round, Ramirez had to watch the match the same way many of the fans that greeted him upon his arrival to LA did.
“I was able to catch the whole game,” Ramirez said. “The stream kept failing. So when the stream would fail, I would be scrolling on Twitter to check. Rossi was putting on a show, that was for sure.”
Ramirez wasn’t the only one with that problem, as no one outside of Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium witnessed Diego Rossi’s opening goal just five minutes in. Or Andrew Wenger’s goal that tied the match seven minutes later for that matter, due to the technical issues with the match's broadcast stream. But with the picture and sound working and LAFC mounting a furious comeback after being down 3-1 in the 75th minute, Ramirez was hooked.
“I was up on my seat watching it,” Ramirez said. “I had to move from my bed to put it on the TV.”
Despite Rossi’s hat-trick heroics to send the match to extra time, LAFC eventually crashed out after an eight-round penalty shootout. While only being a member of the team for a little more than two days, Ramirez acknowledged the pride he felt in his new teammates by the end of the night.
“Credit to them, they stuck through in that weather in Houston,” Ramirez said. “It’s probably one of the toughest places to play because of that weather. They gave themselves a chance to win. When they went to PKs, it’s just a coin flip then.
“But to be able to see how hard those guys fought for each other was really something special to watch.”