SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that longtime captain Ramiro Corrales will retire following the 2013 season. Corrales, 36, is the last remaining player in Major League Soccer to appear in a match during the league’s inaugural season in 1996.
“It’s been an honor playing much of my career here in San Jose,” Corrales said. “I have a lot of great memories, from that first season in 1996 to the MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003 to the expansion season in 2008. It’s been a great ride and I’d like to thank everybody – fans, players, coaches – for their support along the way.”
Corrales’ name litters the Earthquakes’ record books. He is the club’s all-time leader in games played (249), starts (227) and minutes played (20,117). The Salinas native is also No. 4 in Earthquakes history with 32 assists and No. 11 with 16 goals. Corrales is also No. 17 in MLS history with 306 appearances.
"Ramiro was a phenomenal player and one of the best this club has ever had," said Earthquakes general manager John Doyle. "I think it was great to be able to play with Ramiro and see him mature from a 19-year-old kid to a grown man. His contributions over the years have meant a lot to this organization."
The 15-year MLS veteran began his career as the No. 81 overall pick by the Columbus Crew in the 1996 Inaugural Player Draft. He was immediately traded to the San Jose Clash for a second round pick in the 1996 MLS Supplemental Draft and made his debut on April 28, 1996 against the LA Galaxy as an 87th-minute substitute for Victor Melia.
Corrales played two seasons with the Clash before joining the Miami Fusion via the 1997 Expansion Draft. After starting the 1998 season with the Fusion and making one appearance, Corrales was on the move again, this time heading to the MetroStars in exchange for defender Carlos Parra. During the next two and a half years, Corrales recorded five assists in 56 appearances with the MetroStars and helped them reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in 1998 and 2000.
On February 22, 2001, Corrales was on his way back to San Jose after the Earthquakes traded goalkeeper Paul Grafer to the MetroStars for the veteran defender. Corrales became a key member of the squad during its most successful stint in the league, helping San Jose to MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003. He recorded career highs in goals and assists in 2002 with three and nine, respectively, and was a mainstay in the starting lineup from 2002-04.
After four successful seasons in San Jose, Corrales decided to make a move to Europe. He signed with Norwegian side Hamarkameratene (Ham-Kam) following the 2004 MLS season and remained there until being transferred to SK Brann in 2007. He was named team MVP with Ham-Kam in 2006 and helped SK Brann win its first league title in 44 years in 2007.
Corrales returned to San Jose for good in 2008. The Earthquakes traded for Corrales’ right of first refusal from the Houston Dynamo in exchange for allocation money, paving the way for his homecoming. Since his return, Corrales has notched seven goals and 18 assists in 128 games. He had one of the best seasons of his career at 35 years old in 2012, turning in two goals and seven assists while helping the club to its second Supporters’ Shield.
“On behalf of the Earthquakes, I would like to thank Ramiro Corrales for his tremendous achievements with the club,” said club president Dave Kaval. “Ramiro has literally grown up with this team, from its creation in 1996 to where we are now. He’s meant a great deal to the organization over the years and we wish him all the best in his post-playing career.”
Internationally, Corrales earned six caps for the United States National Team and represented his home country at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia. His first appearance for the senior team came on Oct. 16 against Peru in Lima.