On a team full of attacking options, the player who may very well become Lansing Common’s leading scorer this season wasn’t even on coach Josh Oakley’s radar when recruitment began – even though he was already living in East Lansing.
In the Robins’ first two games this season, Ramzi Shaheen has already flashed his abilities up top. After picking up an assist in last week's Grand River Open Cup defeat to BiH Grand Rapids, he tallied his first goal in Saturday's Midwest Premier League opener, a 1-1 draw with Tulip City United.
“It’s very important to get a goal for the club, the first goal’s always good,” Shaheen said. “But we didn’t get the three points.
"We played better. We're getting better game by game. But the more we play together, we'll learn how to play together more and we'll get a better result next time."
At 23 years old, Shaheen has already experienced the sport’s ups and downs both in college and as a professional. Shaheen - whose family is originally from Palestine - was born and grew up in the United Arab Emirates and later attended his freshman year of college at Temple in 2016, where he walked on to the soccer team.
After one year there, Shaheen moved to England to attend the University of Birmingham. While finishing his studies, he played in non-league football with teams such as Cadbury Athletic FC, Sutton Coldfield Town F.C. and Tamworth F.C. After that, Shaheen returned to the UAE, playing for Al-Hilal United in the 2020-21 season, and then to Romania.
But in both England and Romania, work visa issues prevented him from sticking around.
“(In England), I found a lot of difficulties with registration due to non-EU membership,” Shaheen said. “ I went back to Dubai and played a season there, but the contracts and stuff are a bit all over the place.”
It was in February that Shaheen was with a Romanian club and scored a couple of goals in the club’s preseason friendlies coming off the league’s winter break. But he wasn’t able to stick around.
“I got a chance in Romania," Shaheen said. "I was waiting for the transfer market to open, tried to get the papers processed, but it just took too long and my tourist visa ran out."
After leaving Romania, Shaheen relocated to East Lansing. It wasn't a completely random move.
"I'm half-American," Shaheen said. "I'm a citizen. My brother studied at MSU and we have an apartment here."
Oakley views Shaheen as the type of player that, because of his experience around the world, can help improve his teammates.
“Ramzi takes training really, really well,” Oakley said. “He’s one guy that stays very, very late after training to take care of his reps.
“When he gets well acquainted with the group and he understands that people here around him can do some good things, he'll start sharing that a little bit. I think it was a case of, he was so excited to get his first goal for the club, and now he's just off and flying, trying to turn everything into goals."
Shaheen’s goal came in the 38th minute, after a throw-in into the 18-yard box was headed closer to the goal by Ty Usiak, and Shaheen smashed it home on the volley.
ICYMI: Ramzi’s first goal as a Robin 🤭 pic.twitter.com/UgSPYU3AeY
— Lansing Common FC (@lansingcommonfc) May 21, 2022
Even though Shaheen has larger goals in mind professionally after the season, along with adding to his goal-scoring tally, he knows it’ll mean nothing if the Robins aren’t winning matches.
Which is something LCFC wasn’t able to do Saturday as Tulip City equalized in the 76th minute to earn a draw.
“First, I want to win the league,” Shaheen said. “I’m not here to just run around and score goals or whatever. If the goals are not going to help win games, then they’re not good enough, are they? We’ll try to win games, get three points, win the league and win every cup we’re in. If we do that, that’s great.”
Contact digital sports reporter Phil Friend at 517-377-1220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Phil_Friend.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Lansing Common soccer: Ramzi Shaheen scores in draw with Tulip City