Rafael Ramos was one of the bright young spots for Orlando City in 2015. He earned the starting right back job out of preseason, played well early on, and eventually was rewarded with a brand new, extended contract in the off-season.
But 2016 painted a different picture for the Portuguese fullback, as injuries plagued the 21-year-old’s season, cutting his playing time basically in half.
After appearing in 25 matches (24 starts) last season, Ramos was limited to just 12 games (all starts) in 2016 due to a hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly five months from late May. Prior to the injury, he started in 10 of the club’s first 11 games.
Even though he played in just 12 games, he still assisted three times on the year, including in Orlando City’s final game of the season and early in the year on Cyle Larin’s goal in the Lions’ 1-0 win over New York City FC in the third game of the season. He, of course, did not score this season.
Ramos fouled 12 times, saw two yellow cards, and wasn’t shown red at all. Small sample size, sure, but it’s an improvement over the two red cards he saw in 2015.
On defense, he made 1.3 tackles per game, according to WhoScored.com, 1.9 interceptions — among the best on the team — and 1.8 clearances per game over the course of 1,015 minutes.
One of his highest grades of the season came from the club’s 1-0 win over NYCFC back on March 18. As I’ve mentioned already, Ramos assisted on Larin’s goal, and even played an important role on defense in one of the Lions’ five shutouts on the year.
2016 Final Rating
The votes have been counted and The Mane Land staff has given Ramos a 4 for the season. I can promise this vote was not rigged. The hamstring injury ate up most of his season, and even before the injury he was playing like a shell of his former self. Ramos struggled on defense, making too many mistakes, playing as a liability too many times for Orlando. His aerial balls into the box were rarely on point, a stark contrast from his teammate on the left side — typically Luke Boden — who was a good crosser, on the other hand.
Ramos still appears to be a part of Jason Kreis’ squad next season. At the moment, Kevin Alston is his only competition at right back, but I would like to expect the team will do something to add more depth at the position, possibly another starting-caliber player to compete with Ramos in preseason. He needs that competition that I don’t think Alston gives. Ramos is still very much a promising player with plenty of talent, he just needs to figure out a way to put it all together at once heading into his third full season with the club. But he’s still young and time will tell if he reaches his massive potential.