July 8, 2014 marked the signing of Rafael Ramos to Orlando City. Still a USL Pro club at the time, the Portuguese defender appeared in four games towards the end of the season, scoring a goal in his debut, before succumbing to an injury for the final two games.
Since then, it has been a lot of what-ifs for Ramos since starting his MLS journey with Orlando in 2015. Originally brought in as part of the Orlando City—Benfica affiliation, Ramos has shown glimpses of what he can do on the pitch, but only when healthy. Also worth noting: the other part of the Benfica deal, Portuguese midfielder Estrela, is now with Varzim Sport Club — a second-division team in Portugal — after being dropped by Orlando after the 2015 season.
In 2015, Ramos was named the starting right back under former Head Coach Adrian Heath. During the season, Ramos had a few issues with discipline, seeing two straight red cards at one point. Outside of that, Ramos missed six games due to a hamstring injury as well as one game due to a head injury. The 25 games he played in that year are still a career high.
Last season saw the team bring in veteran Kevin Alston to be the backup to Ramos and help push him to be better. Instead, Alston started the bulk of the matches that year after Ramos went down with almost back-to-back hamstring injuries. The first came against Montreal in May of ’16, forcing him to miss four matches. He then came back for the U.S. Open Cup match against Ft. Lauderdale in late June and went down in the first half, once again with a hamstring injury. All in all, Ramos missed 21 straight MLS games between the two injuries. He did manage two Orlando City B appearances in late August before making his first-team return in late October for the final two games of the season.
Now in 2017, Ramos pulled up with yet another hamstring injury in a preseason game against Toronto, sidelining him for 14 MLS matches. He came back to play in two USL matches before making his return to the first team in June against Chicago, but having his night quickly ended with a straight red card that was eventually rescinded. Ramos didn’t play again until Orlando’s latest match against Toronto, in which he came on for the final 29 minutes. This past weekend, Ramos was sent to play with OCB again to regain some game fitness, but unfortunately he was forced to come off early once again with yet another hamstring injury. According to the team, he will miss the next four weeks with a grade one strain.
Counting up all of the games missed in Ramos’ MLS career due to hamstring injuries, the number is 41 out of a possible 88.
Ramos told the Orlando Sentinel back in May:
“I’ve spoken with a lot of people in Portugal, I’ve spoken with a lot of people here, doctors, specialists in hamstring injuries. I know some more about it and I’m doing everything I can to stop it. I’ve been trying to do everything I can control, like resting, recovering, what I eat, how I recover from training, the exercises I do, the extra work — I’ve been doing all the right things.”
Unfortunately for the 22-year-old fullback, he just cannot stay healthy, and with him on his second guaranteed year of his four-year contract — the other two being option years — it will be interesting to see which direction the team goes in regards to the defender in the future.