I'm not sorry about the pun in the headline.
Anyway, Minnesota United forward Christian Ramirez had quite the baby announcement in last Saturday's 3-2 comeback victory at the Montreal Impact. In his first start after from his July 29 hamstring injury, the striker scored the tying goal and celebrated by putting a ball under his shirt, which is the universal goal dedication for a baby.
Ramirez said he had been planning that goal celebration for a while.
"Since we found out the day after [my wife's] birthday, so Aug. 23," he said. "It happened to be the day that I tweaked my hamstring again, so I got home, and I was pretty upset. And she said, 'I don't know if I should tell you this right now or not,' and she showed me the two tests. ... It was a blessing."
His announcement was not only a surprise for the fans but also the team. Ramirez said only best friend Miguel Ibarra, assistant athletic trainer Stacey Hardin and midfielder Sam Cronin knew ahead of time. Ramirez said Cronin in a way predicted the baby, as he had just asked Ramirez during the away trip at Seattle on Aug. 20 if the couple was trying for a baby. Ramirez said they had just started, but only a few days later, he found out his wife, Valerie, was expecting.
Baby Ramirez is officially due April 16, which is 12 days after Ramirez's 27th birthday, The couple finds out in a few weeks if the baby is a boy or a girl.
The Ramirez baby is the latest in a line of little Loons this season. Johan Venegas, Jerome Thiesson and Francisco Calvo have all had baby boys.
"They're passing along the bug," Ramirez said. "So it was my turn."
That family atmosphere off the pitch is extending onto it as well, as the team enjoyed a Lake Minnetonka dinner cruise on Monday, courtesy of team owner Bill McGuire. The team had a "terrific" enviornment at training Wednesday at the National Sports Center, according to coach Adrian Heath.
"I talk about time, and you know, you can't speed it up," Heath said of the team chemistry finally slotting into place. "The relationships that players and coaches build does take time, and I think we've got a really good group, a really tight group, at this moment in time. Hey, trust me, winning games helps to foster all that and breed that, but I think that everybody's comfortable with each other. We know what makes each other tick. And I think we're reaping the rewards from that on the field with our performances."
Goalkeeper Alex Kapp is back from loan with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, where he played four minutes of one game, a 3-0 loss. The 22-year-old was back working with the goalkeepers Wednesday, but one part of the group was still missing.
Jon Lowery, former Minnesota Thunder player and current coach at the University of St. Thomas, was coaching the keepers in Marius Rovde's absence. Rovde did not travel with the team on the Canadian road trip and missed a few practices before that dealing with personal issues. Heath said Lowery will fill in "until necessary," and there isn't a timetable for Rovde's return yet.
Center back Brent Kallman participated in the full practice despite leaving the Montreal match early with a hip injury. Heath said the hip issue acts up occasionally but shouldn't be a problem for the team's game at 7 p.m. Saturday against FC Dallas at TCF Bank Stadium.
Center back Jermaine Taylor took part in a bit of practice but is still in concussion protocol. Cronin, also in concussion protocol, watched from the sideline, too.
Center back Michael Boxall mostly watched from the bench as well. He has a contusion on his right foot that X-rays revealed to be just a bad bruise. Heath said Boxall should be fine, he just didn't want to aggravate the injury ahead of the weekend.
Abu Danladi was absent from practice with an illness. Heath said the forward should be back in by Thursday and available for this Saturday's match.