When watching the UC Davis men’s soccer team play, center back Ramon Martin del Campo immediately grabs your attention. Standing tall, at six feet and two inches, del Campo makes sure that his presence on the field is acknowledged. From the stands, one can hear del Campo communicating with the rest of the defense and directing his teammates. Del Campo’s hard work and dedication to his craft have landed him a rookie contract with Major League Soccer, and is expected to be a top pick in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft today.
Ramon Martin del Del Campo was born in Hermosillo, Mexico, but his family would later relocate to Chula Vista, Calif., located nine miles from the Mexico-United States border. Del Campo attended Bonita Vista High School where he led the soccer team to a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) San Diego Section Division II Championship.
Despite his talent and height, del Campo was overlooked by many college scouts. He received offers from Division II schools, but refused to accept any scholarships from lower division schools, adamant that a Division I school would be right around the corner. That opportunity, UC Davis, eventually came knocking at his door.
UC Davis men’s soccer head coach, Dwayne Shaffer, incidentally discovered del Campo while recruiting another player in a Las Vegas tournament. Del Campo’s boisterous demeanor grabbed Shaffer’s attention, and he observed his future star defender for the rest of the game. Shaffer would later recruit del Campo and coach him for the next four years.
Del Campo began his career with the UC Davis men’s soccer team during the 2011 season under Shaffer. During his freshman season, del Campo started 12 out of 13 games as an interior defender. In his second season as an Aggie, del Campo started in 20 games and scored his first career goal to tie a match at 2-2 against the San Francisco Dons in the 86th minute. Later that season, he registered his first assists against a ranked UC Santa Barbara team. Del Campo recorded nine shots with four on goal during the 2012 season.
It can be said that he had a slow start his first two years at UC Davis. But as del Campo entered his junior year, Shaffer and Aggies saw a matured player with a refined skillset and a vocal leader in del Campo. That year, he he earned Honorable Mention All-Big West Conference. After appearing in 19 matches del Campo registered 12 shots, with five of them on target. In his final season with UC Davis, del Campo led Aggies to a 7-4-9 record, and earned All-Big West Conference honors.
During the summer of 2013, del Campo competed for the San Jose Earthquakes’ U23 Premier Development League (PDL) squad, in which he led the squad to a 7-4-3 record and a third-place finish in the Western Conference. Del Campo gained recognition and was named to the All-PDL and All-Western Conference first teams. In addition, the defender was also a finalist for the PDL Player of the Year Award.
“That was a big breaking point. For me, I saw it as a test for where my level of soccer was. When I was there I got to test myself [with] the best players in California and throughout the nation,” reflected del Campo on his experience in an interview with American Soccer Now.
Later that summer, del Campo, along with 18 other soccer players around the nation, was invited to join the U23 United State Men’s National Team for a training camp in the Bahamas. While training with the U23 National Team, del Campo played with the likes of Team USA members Chris Wondolowski, Julian Green and Kyle Beckerman. During a friendly match against the Bahamas Men’s National Team, del Campo was a second half substitution in 5-1 winning effort.
From the first time he saw del Campo play, Dana Taylor, head coach for the CSU Stanislaus men’s soccer team and the San Jose Earthquakes’ U23 manager, was captivated by del Campo. He knew that del Campo had the potential to play at a higher level.
“As soon as I saw him, I called [the Earthquakes coaching staff] and said ‘he’s a pro,’” said Taylor in an interview with soccerwire.com. “I know sometimes that you need to see players quite a while, but he already has the qualities you need to have as a pro.”
Del Campo has a large vocal presence on the field, and he has a certain tenacity that most players do not have. And Coach Shaffer truly believes that del Campo has what it takes to play at the professional level.
“Ramon’s chances of playing professionally are very good,” Shaffer said. “We’ve had several MLS scouts at all of our games, and some have been here three or four times. Ramon is getting a lot of attention.”
As the top collegiate soccer players sign with European clubs, the MLS has firmly secured del Campo’s services as an incoming rookie. Del Campo had his last chance to impress MLS team managers during the MLS Combine on the weekend of January 9th and is expected to be a top selection in the MLS Superdraft. Mock drafts prior to the draft has suggested that he will be taken as high as No. 3.
Stay tuned for part two of this story, as we continue to track del Campo’s path to the MLS.