All-Star snub Corrales among league's best
San Jose Earthquakes left back Ramiro Corrales has accomplished almost everything there is to do in an MLS uniform: He has played in more than 200 matches, twice lifted the MLS Cup and finally taken over as captain of the team where his professional career began 14 years ago.
In the middle there, he also enjoyed a successful three-year stint in Europe.
There is one hole in Corrales’ resume, however: the lack of an All-Star appearance. And even though the 33-year-old is playing some of his best soccer since returning to the Quakes upon their re-establishment in 2008, that hole didn’t get filled this season.
So while the Quakes were happy to see Bobby Convey, named as an injury replacement, suit up for MLS’ best against Manchester United on Wednesday, the team didn’t forget about their steadying influence on an improved back line.
“I think Ramiro’s been the best left back in the league,” Quakes general manager John Doyle said. “But that’s the decision of Bruce [Arena, the All-Star head coach] and Dominic [Kinnear, Arena’s assistant for the game], and maybe they don’t see it the way I see it.”
Corrales admitted disappointment at not snagging an invite to Houston.
“You want to be there, and I’ve never been a part of that,” Corrales said. “So it was there, in the back of my mind. I think I’ve played the start of the season pretty good. But it’s not up to me. I just concentrate on this team right now.”
Corrales has succeeded on that front. Through the Quakes’ first 15 games this year, he has played all but seven minutes of the team's matches. Last season, he was on the shelf at the All-Star break, forced out due to a right ankle sprain that he suffered on July 3. Corrales didn’t get back on the field until Aug. 22, and even then, he was troubled by the injury the rest of the way.
“I’m fitter this year than last year,” Corrales said. “I feel pretty good. Last year I had an injury that kept me out for six weeks. I wasn’t 100 percent the whole time. This year, thank God, I’ve been healthy and just trying to get better and better every game.”
Corrales has teamed with Convey to solidify the left side of the Quakes’ lineup. After moving through several positions last season, he’s started every game at left back. That fact has allowed him to focus on sharpening his skills in delivering the exquisitely timed tackles that help him slow down faster wingers trying to beat him to the outside.
“I’m not changing,” Corrales said. “Before it was in the middle, left back, Frank [Yallop, San Jose’s coach] was moving me around. Now, since the beginning [of the season], he told me I was going to be left back and to work on that position, and that’s what I’ve done.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes