Ramiro Corrales was part of the inaugural San Jose Clash roster back in 1996, a Salinas native who got to play for his hometown(ish) club in the upstart MLS. Over the next two decades, Corrales had three stints with the club over his career, playing 250 regular-season games for San Jose, winning two MLS Cups and a Supporters’ Shield with the Quakes.
Known as “El Capitán,” Corrales was a terrific squad player, capable of playing defense and midfield and doing a job, week after week after week.
The big trivia question surrounding Corrales in MLS history is that he was the last player who played in the league’s inaugural 1996 season to play in the league, retiring in 2013. That his pro career was bookended with stints with the Clash/Quakes makes it even more legendary.
He was also a key player in one of the silliest red cards in MLS history, when he was sitting on the bench and tried to give the MetroStars’ Amado Guevara, taking a throw-in, a wedgie, before snapping a towel at him to try and take the ball. Guevara hit the deck like he’d been shot, even though the towel only hit him across the stomach, and Corrales got a red card, in a 3-3 game in the final minutes!
But beyond the trivia, beyond the goofy encounter with Guevara, Corrales was a key player for the Quakes, particularly when they won MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003 and in his last stint, from 2008-13.
Born in Los Angeles, raised much of his youth in Mexico, Corrales’ ties to Salinas run deep. Even late in his career, he lived in Salinas and made the hour-plus trip each way to training and games, almost certainly the longest commute on the team.
And Salinas is important, too, as Corrales was a Mexican-American player, hailing from one of the landmark Latinx cities in California, on a team where there hasn’t always been a robust Mexican-American presence. To have him be the captain in his final stint with the club really did give the population a visibility with the Bay Area’s top-flight soccer team. Add to that, Corrales managed to get a handful of caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team in his career and play for the U.S. in the 2000 Olympics.
As they say, representation matters. But Corrales brought the skills, the grit, the determination, too. In addition to the MLS Cups he was also a key player on the 2012 Supporters’ Shield team. In 12 years with San Jose, he played at least 11 games in a season, usually playing well over 20 regular-season games.
So it’s no surprise that he was inducted into the San Jose Earthquakes Hall of Fame in 2015, the fourth player from the MLS era to be inducted. His appearances record at the club has since been eclipsed by Chris Wondolowski, but Corrales’ legend for the San Jose Earthquakes is not in doubt.
And he’s giving back to the game these days, serving as a Spanish-language color commentator for the Quakes and coaching the USL League Two outfit Santa Cruz Breakers FC, where his son was coming through the youth ranks.
In times like this, it’s worth remembering the people who dig deep in their jobs and just get it done every day. Ramiro Corrales is one of those examples, and his steady presence is something we can all aim to emulate.
What do you think? What’s your favorite Corrales memory? Let’s chat in the comments below!