The Mighty Oak are thrilled to announce Henry Ramirez as the seventh member of the 2019 AFC Ann Arbor squad. Ramirez spent the first portion of last season with AFCAA, but an injury cut his time in Ann Arbor short. Still, in his time with the club Ramirez became an instant fan favorite in the midfield with his hard work and relentless pressure of the opposition in the heart of the pitch. Head coach Eric Rudland gave the midfield man some high praise in saying, “he was one of the players we were most excited about bringing in for the 2018 season”. After a stellar stint with The Mighty Oak, a strong finish to his collegiate career, the best is yet to come for the young midfielder.
From Costa Mesa, California, Ramirez is coming off his senior season with UMKC that featured him taking the second-most shots for the Kangaroos in fifteen games played. He spent two years at Arizona Western College, a junior college in Yuma, and received First Team All-Conference and NSCAA All-Regional honors in both seasons. His fine play allowed him to take the leap up to the Division One level and join up in Kansas City with the Kangaroos, where he has spent his final two years of eligibility.
Along with his collegiate career at UMKC, what some may not know about Ramirez is that he also played the 2017 NPSL season with FC Indiana, which helped him garner exposure to the AFC Ann Arbor staff. Rudland, in fact, called him “one of the top center mids in our conference” during his 2017 campaign. His performances against The Mighty Oak impressed decision makers within the club enough to enquire about his services once 2018 rolled around, and those who support the club are happy that fate played into their hands with the midfielder.
Looking ahead at this season after the one which was cut short, Ramirez said about his new opportunity in a familiar set-up, “I’m ecstatic! My season unfortunately was cut short last year and I have been given a second chance, and I will not let it pass!” Returning back to The Mighty Oak was a no-brainer for the midfield man as he said, “When the idea of coming back to Ann Arbor came into discussion, it made me think of the whole community and people who make the wonderful club AFC Ann Arbor run together so smoothly!”
More recently than the NPSL league season was the 2018 Midwest Pro Soccer Combine, which Ramirez was one of three 2018 squad members to take part in. Ramirez was grateful for the experience, and thankful to those who sponsored him for it, saying, “It was an amazing experience; the setup is top class and the talent out there was great! It gave me a-lot of insight of what the talent looks like at the next level. I got a few looks and invitation to closed trials from it, so overall great experience glad I was given the opportunity by Eric & Main St. Hooligans.” Ramirez has plenty of gratitude for the devoted supporters of The Mighty Oak, whom he referred to as “the best fans in the country” for their support on and off the pitch.
The play style of the attacking midfielder is highlighted not just be his shiftiness on the ball, but plenty of other qualities off it. As he described about his game, “I think I’m a hard worker on and off the ball. I attack with the same effort as I defend.” Indeed, plenty of times last season was Ramirez the leading man at the helm of a press up the pitch against his opponents. His playmaking ability also caused plenty of problems with opposing defenders, but as he also describes, “I’m strong on the ball with quick feet. I think that’s what made me dangerous [with] AFC Ann Arbor.” Indeed, he was tough to get off the ball, making him all the more difficult to stop in any fashion in an in-game setting.
Rudland noted similar things about the midfield as he said, “He has the engine to press and the technique to create, which is exactly the player profile we need to fit into our hybrid midfield.” Within AFCAA’s usual three-man midfield, it demands plenty from all three players within it. Ramirez has the unique skills to lead the press and do exactly what the side needs out of its highest-up-the-pitch midfielder.
Despite a season cut short, it was not one lacking in memorable moments for Ramirez. He spoke of his favorite memory with the club, “[It] would have to be my first official start with AFC Ann Arbor at home against conference rival Detroit City.” He discussed what made it special, saying, “the atmosphere of the crowd and support of our fans was incredible. I played the whole game and after the match, I remember thinking to myself [that] this is a special feeling and special club to be a part of.” Finishing his thought, Ramirez concluded, “I am truly lucky to be here.” The Mighty Oak’s faithful certainly feel the same way about Ramirez being in Ann Arbor as well.
About AFC Ann Arbor
Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.