Rafael Ramos has been missing from the Orlando City lineup for nearly three months. After starting in 10 of Orlando City’s first 11 games, Ramos injured his hamstring. He returned just once, for a U.S Open Cup match that left his hamstring injured again. Now, Ramos is coming around the final bend in his recovery and is getting ready to start his fight for his place in the starting lineup.
The process of recovering from an injury like that is long for any player, but especially for a young man who wants to have an impact on his team. “I started just inside. I think I just went on the pitch after four weeks,” Ramos said. “So, first the work is inside. You work on your range of motion, you know, cause the first days you feel some pain. You just kind of want to get your range of motion back. Then, you kind of start the build-up. If you have an injury on your lower body, you start to do a little more upper body workout and try to get in shape.”
Once Ramos worked his way through the work in the gym, he joined some of his teammates on the pitch. But his recovery wasn’t done-- Ramos had extra work to do in addition to normal training. “We do a lot of extra stuff before training, after training, and now I do the training as well,” Ramos said. “So, it’s exhausting. It’s tough, but it’s good for me to get in extra work so it doesn’t happen again.”
One of the best tools Orlando City has for recovery is Orlando City B. It allows the players to get back on the pitch for a limited time, in a less intense matchup. “It’s perfect for us that we have OCB so we can get some minutes in and get in shape, you know kind of the buildup to 100%,” Ramos said. Ramos played 45 minutes against the Richmond Kickers as part of his recovery.
Missing three months while his the season goes on without him has been frustrating for Ramos. “It’s tough. The first days are frustrating, but then you get a mindset and you know that you have to work harder than you did before to get back. And the first week is very tough, but then you kind of work your way up and you know that you’ll be back. After the first two weeks, the time goes fast,” Ramos said. “Not touching the ball, it’s frustrating, seeing your teammates playing and having fun, because we have fun playing this game. And it’s great to be out again and work hard and try to get my spot on the team back.”
Ramos said that there were some benefits to his recovery. Spending three months fighting injury, Ramos believes that he knows himself and his body better. “You kind of know yourself better, your body. What you can do, what you can’t, how you can recover better… you learn a lot about yourself as well,” Ramos said. “I have to recover better after every training, every game… I know what my maximum is and if I start to feel something I know what I can and cannot do.”
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Ramos is ready to fight for his spot on the team and do what he can to help Orlando City make the playoffs. “I feel great now,” Ramos said. “I was just trying to get back as fast as I could to still get to play a few games to help the team get to the playoffs. And that’s what I wanted. And that’s what I’ll try to do these next two months.”