Prior to boarding a bus for a 14-plus-hour drive to Oaxaca in southern Mexico, Ozzie Ramos and members of a pro soccer team from Jalisco became an independent club after league officials removed the team’s ownership group for failing to pay its players.
“Everything has been publicized over here,” the 2014 Central Valley High School graduate said. “We haven’t been paid in two-and-a-half months. They weren’t financially able to sustain the club. It’s criminal what they’ve done to us.”
“We told the league if this ownership group was in place, we wouldn’t travel or play,” Ramos added. “The league backed us up. If all goes well with new ownership taking over, it will be an important stepping stone in Mexican soccer. We made a statement with what we did. We had enough and took action. We had the courage to stand up for ourselves. Usually, ownership controls what happens.”
Ramos and the club formerly named Atlético Jalisco lost 3-1 to Club Chapulineros de Oaxaca during the third week of Liga de Balompié play on Saturday at Estadio Independiente MRCI.
Jalisco dropped to 1-1-1 on the year.
“It was a difficult week for us,” Ramos said. “The game was the last thing on our mind. It’s hard for players to be 100 percent focused on a match when there are financial problems. It’s been stressful not being paid for what you work for. I look at my teammates and it’s worse for them. They have families and kids to support. We’re all here because we love the game.”
Ramos started at center midfielder for the third straight game.
He was on the field for 60 minutes.
The match was tied at 1-1 when he exited the contest.
Jalisco is supposed to play a total of 34 matches this season.
The regular-season champion will play the winner of a four-team playoff bracket that pits the No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 teams against each other for the overall title.
Ramos will find out this week if Jalisco’s season will continue or be cancelled.
“For now, we’re on an independent team,” he said. “The next few days we’ll find out if new ownership takes over. It’s not under my control. I can’t stress out about it.”
Jalisco is scheduled to play Acapulco F.C. this Sunday at noon.
“It could be rescheduled depending on if there’s a new ownership group,” Ramos said. “It’s equally important to have the bigger picture in mind, especially in moments like these. I’ll be ready for whatever comes about, whether it’s positive or negative.”
Ramos was named a starter following the conclusion of Jalisco’s six-match preseason schedule.
“The coaching staff gave every player an opportunity to play,” he said. “I focused on what I needed to do on the field and during training sessions. I like to do things the right way. I think it impressed the coaches.”
Ramos had a successful tryout with Atlético Jalisco in July.
He spent two weeks in Mexico prior to signing a contract.
“My role is important to the team,” Ramos said. “I have to stick to what I know and what I’ve done in the past in terms of being a vocal and proactive player. I’ll do whatever the game demands.”
Ramos previously suited up for San Diego 1904 FC of the National Independent Soccer Association.
He was supposed to play for 1904 FC this fall but the third-division pro league club canceled its season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“San Diego gave me a platform to perform on the field,” he said. “The pressure to perform day in and day out and wins games, I enjoyed it. I pride myself in being a technical player. I hope to continue taking steps forward.”
Ramos and 1904 FC had their spring campaign cut short because of COVID-19.
Ramos, a second-year team captain, scored one goal in two games.
Ramos signed a contract with San Diego in August of 2019.
He attended a month-long training camp at Southwestern College in Chula Vista prior to earning a roster spot.
A total of 30 players participated.
San Diego posted a 2-0-4 record during the 2019 fall season.
Ramos played for ASC San Diego, an amateur team, in the National Premier Soccer League prior to suiting up for 1904 FC. He filled a major role in leading the amateur team to a 15-6-1 overall record, the West Region title and semifinal appearance in the NPSL Playoffs for the first time.
Ramos collected five goals and four assists while starting at defensive center midfielder.
Ramos spent his first two years of college at San Diego State. He saw action in all 38 of the Aztecs’ games.
He collected two goals, dished out one assist and attempted 39 shots while starting 31 times.
Ramos was voted San Diego State’s top newcomer his freshman year.
Ramos totaled seven assists and one goal during his two-year career with the Seattle University men’s soccer team.
He helped the Redhawks secure a berth to the NCAA Division-I Tournament in 2017. Ramos earned Western Athletic Conference honorable-mention accolades.
Ramos tied for first in California in assists (29) and ranked fifth in goals (31) during his final season of varsity soccer at Central Valley High School. He also claimed the WAC Most Valuable Player award for the second year in a row.
The Hawks posted a program-best 26-2-0 overall record, captured their sixth straight conference title and advanced to the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year.
“I do have long-term goals,” Ramos said while talking about the possibility of playing in MLS or overseas. “I’m ambitious about what I want to accomplish. But it’s a day-by-day thing. I can’t think too far ahead. I can’t change what’s going to happen. I can only be present.”