All Mike Ramos needed was a little focus, the former University High School soccer star told himself.
After a short career that’s taken him halfway around the world, Ramos has found it in his own backyard with the Spokane Shadow.
And while he hasn’t lost sight of his larger ambitions, Ramos has shown laser-like focus in the Evergreen Premier League, where his six goals rank third in the league and have the Shadow within striking distance of the top of the standings.
“I try to have high standards,” Shadow coach Chad Brown said this week, “but I think Mike is taking his game to the next level.”
That’s the whole idea, said Ramos, a four-year letter-winner at U-Hi and three-time All-Greater Spokane League selection from 2006 to 2009.
He later played two seasons at Walla Walla Community College and one at Seattle University in 2011, starting 17 games for the Redhawks before seeking that elusive “next level.”
Last winter, the next level was located near the Arctic Circle, in Iceland and Sweden, where the chance at a semi-pro career was derailed because the opportunity was more “semi” than “pro.”
“I would have had to work part-time and also play, and I didn’t think that would work,” said Ramos, who also saw a chance fall through in Los Angeles.
Ramos said his goal is to play professionally “at some point,” but for now he’s grateful to be at home, coaching youth teams during the day and practicing with the Shadow at night.
With his plans uncertain – he still has a year of college eligibility remaining – the 23-year-old Ramos may enroll at Whitworth and complete his degree in sociology.
At 6-feet and 165 pounds, Ramos is a lithe, versatile striker who is just as comfortable in the setup role. In last week’s 2-0 win at Bellingham, Ramos set up both goals, in the 29th minute to Colin Shockman and in second-half stoppage time to Timmy Mueller to set up Saturday’s home match against ELPWA leader South Sound FC.
But Ramos is a scorer first; he notched the league’s first hat trick of the year in a crucial 3-2 win at Wenatchee on May 25.
Ramos credits Brown for much of his success. “He’s really focused on having a winning mentality and making sure that players don’t tune out during games.
“That can’t happen at the highest level, and the difference between the highest level and this level isn’t that much,” Ramos said.