25th Season

First MLS player in league history: US soccer legend Tab Ramos

THUMB - Tab Ramos at 1995 press conference

Current Houston Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos is not only one of the greatest US national team players of all-time, but he's also the answer to a classic MLS trivia question: Who was the first player in MLS history?

Back on January 3, 1995, Ramos became the first player to put pen to paper on a contract with an MLS club. The former New Jersey prep star signed on with his hometown team, the MetroStars, which years later would become the New York Red Bulls.  

Below is a clip of Ramos at his introductory press conference. HoustonDynamo.com also spoke to Ramos about his memories of signing.

The move was a coup for MLS given Ramos played for La Liga club Real Betis at the time and he was the US national team's most creative and talented player. But since he signed on a full year before the MLS inaugural season, Ramos was loaned out to Tigres in Mexico, where he became the first American to play for the club.

Ramos turned out to be the first of 13 USMNT stars who would return stateside to join MLS for its April 1996 launch. That list included names like John Harkes, Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Tony Meola and Eric Wynalda.

A three-time MLS All-Star, Ramos went on to play seven seasons for the MetroStars (1996-2002). Although he battled nagging injuries during his time in the league, he was class on the field:

After retiring from professional soccer, Ramos founded a US Soccer Development Academy club in New Jersey (today called Cedar Stars Academy) and he coached the US Under-20 national team from 2011 to 2019, reaching four FIFA Under-20 World Cup tournaments. He was inducted into the US Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.

Ramos's debut season at the helm of the Houston Dynamo in 2020 will represent his return to MLS as a head coach.