Rodrigo Ramos, RB
5’ 10", 170 lbs., 21 years old
Acquired by the Fire on a season long loan from Brazilian Serie A club Coritiba on February 3rd, 2016.
2016 MLSPU Salary: $80,000
21 games played, 16 starts, 1484 minutes, 3 assists, 4 yellow cards
Also started all four of the Fire’s 2016 USOC matches.
A young Brazilian fullback who plays like the stereotypical young Brazilian fullback ... Provided a fantastic outlet in attack down the Fire’s right side, but also an occasional liability in defense ... Quick to get forward, but showed a lack of defensive understanding with the right-sided centerback ... Think a DeAndre Yedlin circa 2014 type of player.
Well, what can be said about Ramos’ likely sole campaign as a member of the Fire? He was almost exactly what one would expect from a player of his age. Let’s look at a couple of highlights that sum up Ramos’ campaign. We will start with the good.
This was not only Joey Calistri’s first professional goal, but was also Ramos’ first assist for the Fire, and it is emblematic of what a fullback should do in the modern game. Ramos provides a run into the box that the Rapids defense - especially left back Marc Burch - was just not counting on. When a runner comes from wide on a later run like this, then the defense is likely already preoccupied with the guys who are in the box, or in the central channels, for obvious reasons. Not only that, but the fullback coming up high to provide the width in an attacking move allows for one more such runner to come inside, or to lurk on the edge of the box. On this particular play, Joey Calistri is that extra man, and since he doesn’t have to be wide, he ends up scoring the tying goal. It’s much less about what Ramos does with the ball on this play (a fantastic cushioned assist on a hard-to handle cross from Accam), and much more about the fact that he just understands where to be, gets there, and helps his team create a goal that just doesn’t happen with a less attacking fullback on that side. This all being said, for every great attacking moment Ramos provided the Fire with in 2016, there was one of these.
Yikes. Diego Valeri does enough cool things without defenders giftwrapping him shots on goal. Ramos fails to deal with a 50/50 ball which, in his defense, was a tough one to deal with because of how it bounced. But, just about anything is better in this situation than swinging your foot at it and hoping for the best. If Ramos is comfortable with his left foot right here, he can probably just pass it back to SeanJohn and the whole thing never happens. If he’s not comfortable, than kick it hard towards the touchline and out of bounds, just don’t flail your leg and hope for the best. Unfortunately, Ramos is not comfortable in spots like that, and it shows right here. Most young defenders have similar issues to this, but then to absolutely get torched by Valeri after giving away the ball is a lot. Ramos has a lot of work to do before becoming a good defensive fullback, and his overall attacking contribution was probably countered or outdone by his defensive shortcomings in the Fire’s 2016 campaign.
Ramos is not under contract with the Fire for 2017, and to be completely honest, I don’t see the front office bringing him back, especially if Michael Harrington remains in the fold. Also to be taken into account is Ramos’ strange exile from the first time from about mid-August onward. It’s important to note that Johan Kappelhof got most of the right back minutes from that time until the end of the season, so with a right back and a serviceable backup in the fold, it just doesn’t seem to make sense to bring a project player like Ramos in on another season long loan.