Age not slowing down Quakes veteran Corrales just yet

Ramiro Corrales

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — When Earthquakes captain Ramiro Corrales dispersed from San Jose along with the rest of his teammates in October, he gave no guarantees that he would be back for a 17th professional season.

But Thanksgiving hadn’t even arrived before the 34-year-old made up his mind.

“I got bored, actually, in the offseason,” Corrales told MLSsoccer.com recently. “After two weeks off, I’m always itching. I want to get out there playing. I’ve been doing it for so long that I’m used to it.”

Corrales is one of the last players from MLS’ initial 1996 season still standing at this point, and he’s doing more than serving in a ceremonial role as a wizened figurehead for the Quakes. At 2,552 minutes played, Corrales was the third-most used player on San Jose’s roster last year, trailing only goalkeeper Jon Busch (2,970) and star forward Chris Wondolowski (2,672).

“As long as I’m healthy and still able to compete with the guys, I want to be out there competing and playing,” Corrales said. “This is what I love to do, and I want to do it as long as I can.”

San Jose head coach Frank Yallop refuses to be goaded into setting a lineup during training camp, but it appears obvious from his statements that Corrales — who’s entering his 14th MLS campaign — is expected to play a big part in San Jose’s push to reclaim a playoff spot.

“He’s looked — if not the fittest, then one of the fittest guys,” Yallop said of Corrales. “He’s 35 [on March 12] — he’s not 38. He had a bit of back spasms, but other than that, he’s been healthy and played every minute. And that helps you. You don’t take a break and come back at 35. That’s hard. But he’s played right through and I expect the same from Ramiro this season.”

The simple act of coming back might not have been a big question for Corrales, but he could be forgiven for wondering where exactly he was returning, positionally speaking. After making appearances at four different spots last year, bouncing between the back line and midfield, Corrales would like to stick with one set of assignments this year.

Early indications are that left back, despite the emergence last season of third-year player Justin Morrow, will again be Corrales’ position to lose. Corrales played the majority of his minutes there last season and has started at that spot during all three of the Quakes’ preseason games, most recently against Colorado in San Luis Obispo, Calif., last Friday.

“It affects a player when you move him around so much,” Corrales said. “For me, it was fine last year because that’s what the team needed at the time, but I do want to concentrate on one position this year and work at that.”

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com