Written By Nic Hallett (ColdOmaha.com)
On the Major League Soccer radar it may measure as a blip, but for Minnesota and its fans Thursday is a massive hit.
With just weeks remaining to the start of MLS preseason, Minnesota United announced that it has signed the club’s two biggest stars in recent memory in Christian Ramirez and Miguel Ibarra.
Ibarra, 26, returns via an undisclosed transfer fee having been purchased back from Liga MX side club Leon. Ibarra made the move to Mexico’s top division after making his name with Minnesota and even earning a call up to the U.S. national team under then-manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
The 25-year-old Ramirez is retained after he became a free agent this offseason. Ramirez has lead the Loons in goals each of the past three seasons, earning the NASL’s Golden Boot award for being the league’s top scorer twice.
Both players, well known to be great friends, were gushing in their subsequent press interactions.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play in MLS since I was younger and attended games in Los Angeles growing up,” Ramirez told the media. “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 [Adrian] Heath and the rest of the coaching staff.”
“It means the world to me,” the 26-year-old winger said to the press. “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.”
When you analyze it, Ibarra’s return to Minnesota is a sensible career decision as his playing time in Mexico never truly came to fruition, reportedly appearing in only eight league games. Returning to Minnesota not only allows him to return to friendly confines, but it also keeps him playing first division football.
The intriguing question is how much Ibarra’s return influenced Ramirez’s decision to do so. Sources have consistently relayed that Ramirez had a wide array of offers from around the globe. The length of player contracts in MLS aren’t usually readily available, but player salaries are publicly posted each season so those figures should hint how negotiations went for both players and how committed United was to landing two of their old boys.
With the signings, United continues to bolster its squad rather expediently with the MLS SuperDraft beginning on Jan. 11. And though Ibarra and Ramirez were objectively rampaging in the second division of American soccer, it should be kept top of mind that neither has experienced bonafide success in any top division as of yet.
Nonetheless, Ibarra and Ramirez would have been seen as great additions to any MLS side based on their prospects alone. The bigger overall message being sent by these signings from the club is that Minnesota United is seemingly going to be a club run for the fans as ownership continues to make linear moves that the supporters love.