Ramiro Corrales is a lot of things to the San Jose Earthquakes: last MLS original, on-field captain, stabilizing locker room presence. Above all, Corrales is a leader, albeit not visibly vocal, but one that demands the best from his teammates by providing himself as an example of dedication and hard work. Corrales doesn’t demand attention, but all around him willfully give their respect.
At just 35 years old, the Salinas, CA native has quietly gone about another consistent season for his home town team. When he debuted for the San Jose Clash in 1996 at the age of 17, Corrales was the youngest player to appear in an MLS game that season. In 2012, Corrales became the longest serving member of the league to make his debut appearance as an MLS All-Star. And a week ago, against Chivas USA, he had the first two-goal game of his career. Even as he nears the end of his 17th season as a professional, Corrales shows no signs of slowing down.
"The league has changed a lot since I first started here in San Jose back in 1996, and I believe I’ve changed a lot too," shares Corrales in the most recent Taking the Lead video from MLSsoccer.com. "Different uniforms, different attitude, different hairstyle. But most importantly, I learned how to lead."
Not a guaranteed first team selection for head coach Frank Yallop this season, Corrales has worked hard to stay healthy and impress the coaching staff in training everyday. The stellar performance against Chivas USA followed an equally impressive outing against the Colorado Rapids. Both matches saw the Earthquakes score a total of 8 goals, and Corrales had a part in 5 of them. His 8 assists this season are only one off his career high of 9 set in 2002. His two goals against Chivas USA moved Corrales into the top-ten all-time San Jose scoring list with 16 goals total.
But for Corrales, it is not the numbers on the score sheets that show his value to the club. His longevity as a player, where consistency has been his hallmark, leaves him unmatched in some very important statistical categories: Corrales is the all-time San Jose franchise leader in games played (233), games started (214), and minutes played (19,020). And for much of the past five seasons, he has also proudly worn the armband signifying him as the team’s captain.
"My home town, my team," he says in the Taking the Lead video, leaving no doubt as to who is the heart and soul of the San Jose Earthquakes.
Keep reading to see the Taking the Lead video from Major League Soccer.From MLSSoccer.com: