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Earthquakes decline options on Corrales, Opara, among others

The San Jose Earthquakes declined to exercise the 2013 contract option of veteran defender-midfielder Ramiro Corrales on Wednesday, meaning his time with the Quakes appears finished.

The Supporters Shield winners parted ways with Corrales, a 14-year MLS veteran who is also the last remaining active MLS originals from 1996. Corrales played in 22 games for the Quakes in 2012 and scored two goals with seven assists.

Corrales, from nearby Salinas, Calif.,  played for the San Jose Clash in 1996 and 1997, then returned to join the Earthquakes from 2001-2004. After three years abroad, he came back to the Quakes in 2008 and has been with them ever since.

San Jose also declined to pick the options on defenders Ike Opara and Tim Ward and midfielders Khari Stephenson and Joey Gjertsen.

Opara, a former Generation Adidas player, had been with San Jose since 2010 but because of foot injuries saw action in just 35 matches during those years, 16 in 2012.

Stephenson, 31, from Jamaica, played in 69 games for San Jose since 201o and scored eight goals with eight assists in that span.

What do you think of the Earthquakes’ moves? Did Corrales deserve better? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Tim Ward started the 2010 playoff game where the Quakes knocked off the heavily favored red bulls IN NEW YORK 3-1 (after being down 0-1 aggregate). I will be forever grateful for his service that season.

    • Great handle…you’re absolutely right, he was fairly solid when healthy. I remember Convey playing out of his head and Wondo soaring for a header in the 3-1 win. I also remember Agudelo turning the entire Quake defensive inside out in the first game, fortunately he couldn’t finish.

  2. Doesn’t matter the Quakes will likely be non-cup contenders next season, based on their most recent incarnation (after they moved to Houston) they are a “flash in the pan” team, good one year mud puddles the next.

  3. In the games that I watched, Opara’s main problem was his inability/unwillingness to be physical. That might yet happen, and his athleticism is worth gambling on if I’m an MLS team. I’d love for the Sounders to pick him up and let him develop behind Hurtado and Parke (who is nearing the end, I’d guess)

    • Depends where he is on the field, I’ve seen him be very physical and completely dominating in the middle of the field. He is not comfortable at all when he has to track out wide. He plays too far off…way too passive when isolated on the flank. Especially since he is strong with very good pace. He should be right on top of the attacker.

  4. As a Quakes fan I’m ok with all these moves. My guess is that Ike’s GA status was up at the end of this year. If I’m not mistaken didn’t Ives have a story recently about how they were shorter contracts. I remember when player salaries came out this summer I was shocked at how much Ike was being paid (granted not all by the Quakes.)
    Corrales was also making a good amount of change as well. Maybe they bring him back at a lower amount?

    I even think Joey Gjertsen was making a lot of cash for what he brought to the table.

    Another positive I see out of this is that it will free up cash to sign Simon Dawkins to a long term deal and that a deal may be close to happening. Would much rather keep Simon over Ike and Corrales.

    Now if we can just prevent Victor from going to Spain.

  5. There’s conflicting reports on whether Corrales comes back as either a player or a coach (GM John Doyle says he’ll be back but didn’t say in what capacity), but the rest of the moves make sense. Stephenson & Opara had guaranteed salaries in 2012, so cutting them means room to find a CB to partner up with Bernardez as well as negotiating the return of Simon Dawkins and getting Wondolowski more money (maybe a DP deal?)

    • Corrales only played in about 20 games this year, and is 36. He was fairly productive for $180K-ish but I’m sure Yallop is looking at the roster thinking where improvement can be had, because even if the team could produce a SS over another season I still think it’s over-achieving based on the talent on hand, and thus suffers in the playoffs when everyone is pretty good every week.

      For that matter, Corrales might want to retire, or Yallop might simply be concerned that this is the year a player this old falls apart, at that salary level.

  6. Opara getting cut from SJ would be the pithy riposte to those who actually spitballed him as a NT CB. As if the whole U23 failure wasn’t enough to attach “suspect” to a list of defenders and GKs.

    A few years ago Tim Ward was a similarly poised backline prospect. You throw in Gale A. and a few others and you start to see where the current NT CB vaccuum comes from. You start to wonder what’s going on development wise because I don’t think the theoretical starting CBs of Cameron and Goodson were pipeline kids, ie, youth internationals groomed to step into their spots. They’ve instead stepped into a void left by a previous generation of Boca and Gooch….who were Bradenton/ youth NT pipeline kids in the 90s!!!……….the current bunch is more in the spirit of DeMerit who had to earn his respect the hard way. [FWIW, it’s an interesting thought exercise to consider where we’d be sitting as a team if some of the Germans didn’t switch.]

    Anyways, back to Opara, etc……they’ll get back Bernardez but you can take the Ward and Opara cuts as critical of the defense. All those regular season wins and goals and then LAG clobber them game one in basically one focused burst after Bernardez went out. As long as they do in fact recruit better defenders it’s all logical and well-considered.

      • I wasn’t advocating for the non-pipeliners, I was simply pointing out that the CB pipeline is operating sufficiently poorly that someone like Goodson or Cameron can just step into a void. Cameron wasn’t even a MLS Superdraft player, he was supplemental. Although I agree with your assessment of Goodson, I think it says something, all by itself, that we’ve seemingly not produced a NT CB through ordinary channels in about a decade.

    • Pretty common for NT CBs to come outside of the pipeline. You’re typically gambling on size and athleticism when developing these guys but the most important skills for a CB are intangibles like consistency, focus, communication, anticipation, etc. these are things you can’t really identify in a 15 year old. You have to take the athletic kids and hope they work out. If they happen to have or develop those qualities then you have great player, but it’s pretty rare.

      • Really? Gooch was a Bradenton kid, U17, U20, then Nats. Bocanegra was at least a U20. Pope was a U23 Olympian at least. Now, perhaps Alexi and Goose weren’t pipeliners but that’s not exactly a sales pitch, is it? I kind of thought we’d turned a corner on how we staffed the national team this decade.

      • Like I said, when it works out, then great, but it’s tough to predict how much focus and consistency a 14 year old is going to possess in 10 years. Gooch was an exception and he came through the system as a forward. He’s still, even to this day, a guy that doesn’t have the ideal focus, anticipation and consistency you’d like to have in a CB. He’s always made up for it with freakish athleticism. The man is IMMENSE yet, in his prime, had catch-up speed to the point where he could reel in forwards who had international level speed. Against Spain in the Confed he was blocking shots that had Spanish superstars shaking their heads because they didn’t think there was any way the big man could get there that quickly. On the other hand, we’ve also seen Gooch get turned far too easily at times and lose his place on the pitch as well.

      • And both Pope and Boca were not pipeline guys, they developed in college. Eddie’s first NT experience was a call up to the full Nats in his rookie year with DC.

    • Tim Ward has been on the injured list for three seasons for a “soft tissue” injury. It has been comical how he survived for so long without kicking a ball for years. The Opara debacle against LA greased the rails for his departure. He simply can’t control the ball and has critical lapses reading the game…not good for a CB. The outside backs are very good, but we need another quality CB to pair with Bernardez. That is priority number one.

      • As far as SJ is concerned, I think Yallop believes if they can plug in one or two new good defenders with the same offense, they can seal the deal next time. Ward, well, that may have been for insurance purposes. If he was guaranteed under the CBA/ contract then you’re kind of stuck, though I think long term injuries could be pushed off the cap. So they might have left him on the books to honor the deal with the idea if he ever healed they might benefit, but if not they fulfill the contract and then cut bait.

        Far as the Nats are concerned, based on the body type of Gale A. and Opara I get the idea the youth NT coaches are picking based on physique, but one gets the impression they are not sufficiently training up the big kids they are putting in the pipeline.

        I think one emerging issue is the professionalization of the tail end of the youth pipeline, ie, that more of our kids are spending the U-17 to U-20 to U-23 type years on the books at a club, earning a paycheck but fighting for minutes, where before they might have been in either Bradenton or college or a club playing a lot. I think MLS is good at producing drilled veteran filler for the Nats but not a lot of the draft age talent is doing as well, people like Opara and Agudelo. Ironically, it seems like you’d do just as well getting at least a year or two of college like Berry or DeLeon.

        I think now that these players are more with their pro teams like in England, and less able to reside in long term youth camps like were dominant when Donovan came up, we’re going to ebb for a bit until the Academy and Reserve systems start doing better by the developmental players.

      • I think quality like CBs will continue to flow out of college. True defenders (not offensive wingbacks per se) like CBs, d-mids and keepers are all initially reactive positions, strikers, wings, CMs all make defenders react to them. It is easier to be an actor instead of a re-actor. Cbs and keepers need reps. Game after game, getting beat and learning. And honestly, unless you are preternaturally talented and fall into a good situation where the club is invested in you and willing to let you fail sometimes, (see Johnson, Sean; Hamid, Bill; both those guys have made some howlers, cost their teams games and precious points. But their respective clubs know the long term upside is potentially worth it. A cb who made mistakes like that would be benched) all players need reps and failures to improve. But if an offensive player fails 25 times in a match and succeeds once, it’s ok. A defensive player who makes one mistake is the goat. Barring the existence of a lower league where players can make mistakes and learn with lower stakes, few teams will take the risk of developing a highly paid cb, there are too many less expensive vets who can help you now. So if you can sign an Ike Opara for forty grand and send him to a lower league to learn and get time, you will. But no one will pay him six figures to develop at the MLS level. Hence: college.

      • I agree, all the effort and resources will be directed towards CBs and defensive depth. Regarding the development of CBs, the whole system was incredibly flawed by prioritizing players that fit the classic stopper profile instead of looking for more cerebral sweeper types. It is really a shame that we didn’t have the foresight to groom some of our best and brightest with vision and skill for the back line. To prioritize the overall elements and versatility that make the Italian defenders so great. I think we understand what we need to do now, but like you’ve posted previously, we have at least a decade gap…without the German-Americans we’d be toast.

  7. Ike Opara is available?! Sign him Red Bull NY! That guy has all the tools, just needs some time and guidance to develop. I think that’s exactly the kind of American player we’d like to see in NY, and we can always use some centerback depth.

    • Those were my thoughts. With the constant dishevlment of the RBNY backline players like Barklage could find their feet again. RBNY would have nothing to lose by giving Opara a chance with a trial. RBNY is going to overhaul anyway bing him in see if he can regain that confidance. It would also be consistant with what Roxburgh has talked about(this early on)why not?

  8. Good moves.

    Corrales was just awful when he was out there this year, often times I thought they were just playing him for sentimental reasons because he was an MLS original (like on his bobblehead day).

    And Opara has the coordination of a baby deer, his coming in for an injured Bernardez in the second leg pretty much singlehandedly knocked the Quakes out of the playoffs. And that’s after his awful performance during World Cup qualifying…

    With these moves finding another CB obviously becomes a top priority.

    • You are too harsh on Opara. He was poor, but he has tools and has been injuried. CB, more than any other position, develop later with expereince. He will get another chance with someone. He may not develop – most people don’t – but I owuld not be surpsied if he does.

    • I thought Corrales had a pretty good year, for a guy that doesn’t have the speed anymore to recover when he’s beat on defense. He’s one of the savviest players on the team and I recall some really sweet crosses that he put into the box. Not to mention the sneaky goal he scored off a quick restart. Not a starter or a 90-minute player now, but a really good person to have on the bench. Gotta say, though, I have a real hard time thinking of him as a coach. Maybe because one of the indelible memories I have of Ramiro is him getting red-carded on the Spartan Stadium bench many years ago for snapping a towel at someone. For someone who started out a bit of a punk, he’s done good….

      • I completely agree, the only thing limiting Corrales was his loss of speed. Technically he’s as smooth as silk and his savvy distribution will be missed. At least he passed on the freaky anticipatory slide tackle to Morrow…he goes down into the slide about 2-3 seconds before the player and ball arrives… cracks me up to see Morrow pull it off…I will miss watching Corrales walk by guys off the dribble, but his pace has gone and his time has come.

      • You realize when Opara was not in we stomped the Falacy at home depot and Buck shaw. The second Opara came in Robbie moved to the right side and had a field day with the youngster. Get you facts right!

      • Stomped LOL?? Dillusional much? A gift goal in the first leg stoppage time is stomping? Ya, Opara got torn up, but so did the whole Quakes offense/midfield.

  9. I think the moves make sense, although I would have liked to have seen more patience with Opara. I can’t imagine anyone being surprised by the Crrales move, including him. He’s been a solid pro, and he’s had a great run, but I think it’s time


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