Captain Ramiro Leads by Example

Ramiro Corrales was an original member of the 1996 San Jose Clash and is providing leadership f

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Photo Credit: 
Don Feria

Busting up furniture in the locker room isn't exactly Ramiro
Corrales’ style.

So when the San Jose Earthquakes captain dealt
with his teammates in the wake of a season-opening 3-0 loss to Real Salt
Lake, he didn’t call them together to deliver a blistering speech
excoriating their performance.

“I mean, we talked about it a
little bit with the guys, but hopefully it’s just one game,” Corrales
said. “We can’t dwell on that game. We’ve just got to forget about it.”

Corrales has forgotten more soccer than many of his teammates have
ever known. The 33-year-old came straight out of North Salinas High
School -- a little more than an hour away from San Jose -- to join the
inaugural Clash roster in 1996. Although there have been detours through
Miami, New York and even three years spent in Norway, Corrales came
back in 2008 for a third stint with a San Jose MLS franchise.

As a
rookie, Corrales was the youngest player in the MLS and also the
youngest on the U.S. national team, for which he has earned five caps.
This season, Corrales is the old hand imparting wisdom to the younger
set.

“I’m not a very vocal guy,” Corrales said. “I’ve never tried
to be like that. I just try to perform well. I do from time to time
talk to the young guys, just try to help them out a little bit, give
them some confidence.”

Chris Wondolowski vs. Seattle Sounders FC 040211

Photo Credit: 
Kelley Cox / ISIPhotos.net
Goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who’s in his fifth
season playing alongside Corrales, thinks the young players would do
well to listen up.

“It’s up to our younger guys to learn from a
guy like Ramiro, because he’s been not only with this club longer than
anyone, but he’s also been overseas, he’s been with the national team,”
Cannon said. “He’s a consistent pro. I like him. I think he’s a good guy
to lead us into battle.”

Yallop picked Corrales to take over the
captaincy from Nick Garcia in part because of familiarity -- Corrales
is one of one three current Quakes who also played during Yallop’s first
term in San Jose, from 2001 to 2003 -- and because of his ability to
communicate in all corners of the locker room.

“He doesn’t yell
and scream, but he’ll make sure that if he needs to talk to them, get a
point across, he’ll do it,” Yallop said. “I obviously go to him a lot of
times to ask how the boys are feeling. We have a few Spanish-speaking
players as well, and the language barrier is not easy to break when
you’re playing. My Spanish and Portuguese is nothing, and their English
is limited. [Corrales] speaks both, so he speaks for everybody.”

After
playing both in the midfield and on the back line last season, Corrales
is firmly ensconced at left back, which Yallop considers to be
Corrales’ natural position.

“Coach told me, ‘You’re going to play
left back the whole year,’ so now I’m just focusing on playing left
back and getting better each day,” Corrales said. “I feel really
comfortable there.”

Corrales had the highlight of the match for
San Jose’s maligned defense against RSL, coming up with a clearance off
the line late in the second half to keep the final score from being 4-0.
It didn’t do anything to change the outcome, but served once again as a
reminder of Corrales’ work ethic -- and as a do-as-I-do example from
the quiet captain.

“I love, hard-working, blue-collar people and I
think Ramiro fits under that realm,” Cannon said. “Those are the kind
of guys we need in San Jose and those are the kind of guys our fans
appreciate, and that’s why Ramiro’s here.”

Geoff Lepper
covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com.
Follow him on Twitter at @sjquakes.