Minnesota United announced that it has signed forward Christian Ramirez and midfielder Miguel Ibarra to Major League Soccer contracts. Ramirez has played with the Loons for the past three seasons while Ibarra makes his return to Minnesota after being transferred to Club Leon in Mexico in 2015. Ibarra will be added to the club’s roster pending receipt of his ITC.
“I’m thrilled to be bringing back two players of this quality,” said Sporting Director Manny Lagos. “First and foremost we are getting two great personalities and two individuals who have embraced the club and are committed to growing the game in our community. They are obviously great talents on the field and we are very excited to have them be a part of our transition and future in Major League Soccer.”
The dynamic duo played key roles in Minnesota’s offensive strategy, with Ibarra showcasing his speed and skill on the wings and Ramirez’ technical finishing in front of goal.
“I’m extremely excited about these players,” said MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Christian and Miguel have proven themselves in this market before as both on-field and off-field assets. They wanted to be back here in Minnesota to be a part of what we are doing with this club and in this community. I can’t wait to begin working with each of them.”
Both players have earned several accolades during their careers with Minnesota in the North American Soccer League. Ramirez was named to the NASL Best XI three times and was the first player to win the Golden Boot twice. Ibarra has a pair of Best XI appearances, along with a Golden Ball Award (MVP), and was the first U.S. lower division player to be called up to the U.S. Men’s national team since 2005.
“It means the world to me,” Ibarra said. “This club has given me everything. These fans are the absolute best and I cannot wait to put on the Minnesota colors and represent the crest again. I'm happy and excited to be back home and can't wait to get started.”
Ibarra was the first of the two to come to Minnesota, signing with the club in 2012. He had been drafted by the Portland Timbers in the MLS Supplemental draft the same year, but was not signed by the club. In his first year as a professional he helped Minnesota make its second-straight NASL championship appearance.
Ibarra was one of the main factors for recruiting Ramirez to sign with Minnesota. The pair had played together on the Orange County Blue Star during the college offseason, and Ibarra knew Ramirez’ skill would be a huge asset to Minnesota.
“First of all I want to thank God, my family and my wife for their support in me through the years,” Ramirez said. “Second I am very grateful for this opportunity to continue playing in Minnesota and help continue the growth of soccer in this state. It was a very long process this offseason but I am very thankful for the belief that the club has in me to bring me along while making the jump to Major League Soccer."
Ramirez began his professional career in USL with the Charlotte Eagles in 2013. He scored 12 goals that season, en route to a USL Championship matchup against Orlando City, which was led by current Minnesota Head Coach Adrian Heath at the time. Ramirez netted a pair of goals in the final, putting on a stunning display despite the Eagles’ loss.
"It's been a dream of mine to play in MLS since I was younger and attended games in Los Angeles growing up," Ramirez said. "I know there will be an adjustment period coming into this league and I'm very excited about the challenge ahead and the opportunity to work with coach Heath and the rest of the coaching staff. Lastly, I'm very excited about continuing to have the privilege to play in front of the Dark Clouds and True North Elite once again!”
Ramirez was forced into an immediate starting role before the start of the 2014 season, after starting forward Pablo Campos went down with an ACL injury during the club’s preseason trip to England. Ramirez silenced his critics with a spinning shot and goal inside the box just minutes into his Loons debut.
The two players were an unstoppable force in the league that season, combining for 29 goals to help Minnesota to a first place finish during the regular season. 20 goals for Ramirez earned him the Golden Boot and Ibarra was named NASL’s most valuable player with the Golden Ball.
In October 2014, Ibarra became the first lower division player to be called up to the national team since 2005, coming in as a late-game substitute against Honduras. He was called up for international duty four consecutive times, making three appearances, including one start, for his country.
Ibarra was transferred to Club Leon on Mexico’s Liga MX in June 2015, having played nine games for Minnesota that season. He made eight appearances for Leon in his first season, scoring once.
Meanwhile, Ramirez proved to be one of the most valuable players on the Loons’ roster during his career. He made 92 consecutive appearances across all competitions for Minnesota, missing just one game due to injury in the 2016 season. His consistent contributions to MNUFC’s success earned him three-straight NASL Best XI awards. He is one of just three players to accomplish that feat, another being teammate Justin Davis.
Now reunited on the Loons roster, the pair is ready to take on MLS in the club’s inaugural season, which kicks off March 3 in Portland.
Be there for every match in this historic season, including the inaugural home opener on March 12, by purchasing your season tickets today. Visit MNUFC.COM to secure your seats at TCF Bank Stadium and receive numerous benefits including exclusive discounts, unparalleled team access, priority at the new Midway Stadium, and membership into the exclusive Itasca Society.
TRANSACTION: Minnesota United sign forward Christian Ramirez and midfielder Miguel Ibarra on January 5, 2017. Ibarra will be added to the club’s roster pending receipt of his ITC.
Born: 3/15/1990 (26 years old)
Weight: 145 lbs.
Last Club: Club Leon
Hometown: Lancaster, California
Birthplace: Lancaster, California
Born: 4/4/1991 (25 years old)
Weight: 195 lbs.
Last Club: Minnesota United FC
Hometown: Garden Grove, California
Birthplace: Garden Grove, California