Across American soccer circles, there are few figures who have experienced widespread success like Tab Ramos has. Announced as the fourth head coach in Houston Dynamo history Friday, Ramos, 53, has already compiled a career worthy of reflection and praise.
The New Jersey native helped bring American soccer back to relevance, then prominence, as a player, before becoming one of the longest-serving US national team youth coaches in recent years.
Related to MLS, Ramos signed as the league’s first player for the inaugural 1996 season. He enjoyed seven seasons with the New York MetroStars, appearing in 121 games for the club. Before then, Ramos spent several years in the American Soccer League, paving the way for stops in Mexico (UANL Tigres) and Spain (Figueres, Real Betis).
That sort of resumé, of course, led to a long and illustrious career with the US men’s national team. Born in Uruguay, Ramos amassed 81 caps with the USMNT and represented the stars and stripes in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups. He also played at the 1995 Copa America and the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
From a different era of American soccer, Ramos’ was a product of the collegiate game. He attended North Carolina State, having played youth club soccer for Thistle FC and on the New Jersey high school scene with Saint Benedict's Preparatory School. Those stints included time alongside John Harkes, who he joined in the National Soccer Soccer of Fame as part of the Class of 2005.
For an American men’s field player, it’s hard to find a more accomplished career. It’s why when questions of who the greatest USMNT field player of all time come up, Ramos is mentioned right alongside the likes of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Cobi Jones.
But to earn the Dynamo job, Ramos had to build a coaching pedigree – and he’s carved that out via US Soccer over nearly the last decade. He’s served as head coach of the US U-20 national team since 2011, leading the country to three consecutive quarterfinal appearances (2015, ‘17 and ‘19). Ramos has also been the US Soccer Youth Technical Director since 2013, and was an assistant coach to Jurgen Klinsmann for the senior team including the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Way before any of those stops, Ramos founded NJSA 04. Since, the Development Academy club has joined Cedar Stars Academy to form Cedar Stars Academy – Monmouth.
Looking across these 40-plus years of Ramos’ American soccer journey, it’s an understatement to say he’s accomplished a lot. He’s proven himself at every level – club, college, professional, international – and now gets a new opportunity with his first professional club coaching job.
It’s quite the task, too, as Houston look to return to their early glory days, having won MLS Cup in 2006 and ‘07. They’ve since missed the playoffs five of the past six seasons, though they did win the U.S. Open Cup in 2018.
There’s a base in place, and now it’s up to this MLS original and USMNT great to push the Dynamo forward.