The San Jose Earthquakes confirmed earlier on Wednesday that Ramiro Corrales and Mike Fucito have signed new contracts with the club and have been added to the senior roster. Per MLS policy, the lengths and terms of the two contracts have not been disclosed.
Corrales, who made his MLS debut in the league’s inaugural season of 1996, returns at 35 years of age to play his 18th professional season. The midfielder enjoyed one of his best seasons with the Earthquakes in 2012, when he posted two goals and seven assists in 22 appearances in the MLS regular season. His two goals came via free kicks against Chivas USA as part of a 4-0 victory on September 2.
“I think Ramiro was a good performer for us last year,” said Frank Yallop earlier this preseason. “He didn’t play a lot of games but he really contributed to us.”
Corrales is likely to play a similar part for the Earthquakes in 2013, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get the opportunity to challenge for a spot in Yallop’s preferred Starting XI. After all, Corrales has done well to keep himself relatively injury free over the past couple seasons, and he has shown what a valuable contribution he can make at multiple positions on the field.
“He’s a good footballer and a good guy to have on our squad,” continued Yallop. “He wants to be here badly, he’s trained well in the offseason, and he’s as fit as anybody. That’s a good sign for us, and I am pleased to have him back.”
For former teammate and current general manager John Doyle, the decision to bring Corrales back for another season was a no-brainer.
“He’s been ageless for us,” said Doyle, “and he understands his role may diminish at times, but he wants to play and he’s good with that. He’s not thrilled — he wants to play every second and start every game — but he’s accepted the idea. We’re thrilled to have him back.”
Not only will the Salinas native continue to take the field for the Blue and Black, but Corrales will also participate in limited coaching duties as part of his new contract. Already a mentor to young players on the first team, such as Rafael Baca during his rookie season, Corrales will also spend time with the next generation of potential Earthquakes players.
“Part of his role is a coaching role,” continued Doyle. “He’ll work with our academies and with (academy director) Chris Leitch. First and foremost he’s a player and secondly is the coaching side of things.”
Fucito comes to the Earthquakes after spending time with three other MLS clubs in the past 12 months — Seattle, Montreal, and Portland. Such an unsettled year resulted in Fucito failing to show much in terms of statistical success, but his hard work and energy made him a commodity the Earthquakes were willing to trade for with one of their 2013 SuperDraft picks.
“Picking up Mike really adds to our squad,” said Yallop. “He’s the type of player I know I’m going to like: hard working, honest. When he gets his chances he’s going to score. I’m excited to get him. Yes, he went through Montreal and he went through Portland, so hopefully we can get him back on track, if you like, and get him settled. I think he is going to do okay for us.”
The diminutive forward has not always recorded a very high conversion rate on his scoring opportunities, but Fucito does make up for that with a tireless drive to get to the ball in the attacking third. In some ways, he is much like what Chris Wondolowski was when the now MLS MVP first started in the league. With like-minded teammates around him, Fucito may blossom in similar fashion.
“Mike Fucito will really help us,” said Doyle. “He’s a smart player that we expect can help us this season.”
In addition to the two official signings that were announced earlier, the Earthquakes may be on the verge of adding two more names to the 2013 roster. According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, Doyle indicated that the club hoped to sign former Earthquakes defender Nana Attakora to a new contract. The Canadian international last played professionally in Finland, but has been training with the Earthquakes and is apparently ready to look beyond his reported differences with team management. Attakora would provide further depth at the centerback position for San Jose.
"We kept in contact with Nana and kept a good relationship with him," Doyle told the Mercury News. "We always thought he was a good player. It was a little disappointing he wasn't here for a while."
The other player possibly in line for an offer is Supplemental Draft pick Peter McGlynn. According to a tweet by the former U.C. Santa Barbara defender, he signed a contract with the Earthquakes on Tuesday. Though more known for an incident late last season in which he assaulted a referee after a UCSB match and was summarily dismissed from the team, McGlynn has impressed the Earthquakes coaching staff for some time and they were willing to give him a chance to make the team.
“We’ve seen enough of him to know that he is good,” said Yallop back in late January. “It’s one mistake. Everyone gets a second chance. He’s paid his dues, so this is a fresh start for him.”
Doyle echoed the comments of Yallop, and further described McGlynn as a player that could make an impact with the team from day one.
“McGlynn is a good attacking right back,” said Doyle, “kind of in the mold of Steven Beitashour. He likes to get forward so we will see how he does. He made a mistake (at UCSB), but that doesn’t define him as a player.”
With the signings of Corrales and Fucito official, as well as the earlier announcement of contracts for defenders Dan Gargan and Ty Harden, the Earthquakes roster has swelled to 24 active players. The addition of Attakora and McGlynn would push that number to 26. With money previously earmarked for the acquisition of Simon Dawkins now free for the Earthquakes to spend on other targets, the competition in preseason training to make the squad among trialists and draft picks will only intensify. Still, for Doyle, the task remains the same as it always has.
“We’re always looking for good players,” said Doyle. “That job never ends.”