Tab Ramos

Tabaré "Tab" Ramos (born September 21, 1966) is an American former soccer player and coach who currently serves as head coach of the Houston Dynamo in Major League Soccer.

Tab Ramos
Personal information
Full name Tabaré Ramos
Date of birth (1966-09-21) September 21, 1966
Place of birth Montevideo, Uruguay
Height 5 ft 7 in (170 cm)[1]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Houston Dynamo (head coach)
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1987 NC State Wolfpack
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1988 New Jersey Eagles 8 (2)
1989 Miami Sharks 3 (0)
1990–1991Figueres (loan) 38 (5)
1991–1992 Figueres 34 (4)
1992–1995 Real Betis 32 (1)
1995–1996UANL Tigres (loan) 35 (2)
1996–2002 MetroStars 121 (8)
Total 271 (22)
National team
1988–2000 United States 81 (8)
Teams managed
2009–2011 United States U20 (assistant)
2014–2016 United States (assistant)
2011–2019 United States U20
2019– Houston Dynamo
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Over this thirteen-year professional career, Ramos played as a midfielder in Spain, Mexico, and the United States. The first player to sign with Major League Soccer, he spent the last seven years of his career with the MetroStars. He featured in three World Cups and was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.[2]

Early career

Youth and school

Born in Uruguay, Ramos immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 11. His father played professional soccer in Uruguay with CA River Plate and instilled a love for the game into Tab from an early age.[3] While living in Uruguay, he played for the Union Vecinal Youth Soccer Club in Montevideo.

When his family arrived in the U.S., they settled in New Jersey where Ramos lived in Harrison and Kearny.[4] He attended Saint Benedict's Preparatory School, the same high school attended by Claudio Reyna a few years later. In 1982, he became U.S. citizen. He also played for local youth club Thistle FC where he played with future United States captain John Harkes. Ramos and Harkes played together from their youth through the U.S. National Team. They were both inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Ramos was a two-time high school All-America and the 1983 Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year. That year he led St. Benedict's to the New Jersey State Championship. Ramos still holds the New Jersey High School boys' soccer career scoring record of 161 goals, 57 of which he scored in his senior year. In 1999, he was named by The Star-Ledger as one of the top ten New Jersey high school soccer players of the 1980s.[5]

Apart from playing soccer, Ramos also ran indoor track at St. Benedict's (60 yards and 4 × 100 m relay).

In 1984 the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League drafted Ramos with the 10th pick of the first round but he chose to go to college instead. The NASL folded about six months later.


Ramos attended college at NC State where he played NCAA soccer for four years. He was All ACC his four years and a three time All-American. He was tied with Bruce Murray for the Atlantic Coast Conference scoring title his senior year. In 1988, he left school briefly to play for the U.S. team at the 1988 Summer Olympics. However, he returned in 1989 to leave again when he signed with the United States men's national soccer team. He finally graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Language (Spanish) and Literature after taking years of correspondence courses.

Professional career

American Soccer League / MISL

Ramos played with the New Jersey Eagles of the American Soccer League in 1988. That same year the Tacoma Stars of the MISL selected him with the #1 pick in the draft. He didn't play a game as he decided to only play the outdoor game. He then moved to the Miami Sharks for the 1989 season. He was selected as a league All Star that year.


Ramos and several other national team players signed contracts with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) to play exclusively for the national team as it prepared for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Following the World Cup, USSF began seeking club opportunities for the national team players. On July 27, 1990, USSF agreed to loan Ramos to Spanish Second Division club Figueres for the 1990–1991 season.[6] He played with Tito Vilanova who would later become FC Barcelona's manager.[7] In his first season with the team he played 38 games, scoring 5 goals. On June 23, 1991, Figueres purchased Ramos' contract from USSF for $250,000.[8] His excellent play continued during his second year with the Figueres, bringing considerable attention from several Primera División clubs. However, Ramos sabotaged this interest when he was ejected from a Nov 24, 1991 game with Rayo Vallecano. He was suspended for three games and interest in him dried up until the end of the season.[9] On July 31, 1992, Figueres sold Ramos to fellow Second Division club Real Betis for $400,000.[10] In the 1993–1994 season Real Betis won Segunda División and earned promotion to La Liga. While Ramos remained with Betis for the 1994–1995 season, he never played a game in La Liga as he was recovering from a skull fracture suffered during the 1994 FIFA World Cup game with Brazil (see Senior national team section).

In 1994, Ramos was chosen as the CONCACAF Player of the Year.


On January 3, 1995 Ramos became the first player signed with Major League Soccer (MLS).[11] The league had intended to begin play in the fall of 1995 but difficulties forced it to delay its start for a year. Rather than letting players such as Ramos sit idle, the league loaned him and several others to foreign teams. For Ramos, MLS sent him to Liga MX México Primera División Tigres for the second half of the 1994–1995 season. Ramos became the first American player to appear for the side, seeing time in twelve games. He remained on loan with Tigres for the 1995–1996 season, playing twenty-three games and scoring two goals as the team ran to the 1996 Mexico Cup championship, one of two Mexico Cups won by Tigres and its first title in 20 years.


While Ramos was in Mexico, MLS allocated him to the future New York/New Jersey franchise, eventually known as the MetroStars.

Following the end of the Mexican season in April 1996, Ramos returned to the United States for the inaugural MLS season in 1996.[12] He would play seven season for the MetroStars, earning All Star recognition in 1996, 1998 and 1999. On May 14, 2002, he announced his intentions of retiring at the end of the 2002 season.[13] When he retired, he was the last original member of the team. Unfortunately, his flashes of brilliance were interrupted by long injury spells, as he never lived up to his potential in a MetroStars jersey. Ramos totaled just eight goals and 36 assists in MLS play (ten goals and 39 assists in all competitions).

U.S. national teams

1983 FIFA U-20 World Cup

Ramos began his national team career playing at the U-20 level in 1982, just after gaining his U.S. citizenship. Ramos was 15 when he scored two goals in the regional qualifying for the 1983 FIFA U-20 World Cup. However, the U.S. went 0-2-1 and failed to advance out of group play in the champsionship tournament.

Cut from 1984 Olympic team

In 1984, Ramos was the last player cut from the U.S. 1984 Summer Olympics soccer team. At 17 years old, he had just left high school, but was already known as an up-and-coming player. However, the International Olympic Committee had opened the Olympic soccer tournament to professionals for the 1984 games. The U.S., as the host nation, did not need to qualify, but had assembled a team of amateurs, mostly college players. When the IOC announced their decision, USSF dumped most of the original team, except for Paul Caligiuri, for professionals.

Ramos had further disappointment a year later when the U.S. failed to qualify for the 1985 FIFA U-20 World Cup, despite a 3-2-2 record in the qualifying tournament. He went on, however, to play for the U.S. team which went 0-1-2 at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

Senior national team

It would be another year before Ramos earned his first cap for the senior U.S. team. It came on January 10, 1988, against Guatemala. He soon became an integral part of national team.

After playing for the United States in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, he was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 1990.

In 1994 Ramos once again played in the World Cup, being a starting player for the U.S. National Team in all its matches. In the round of 16 Ramos suffered a skull fracture, caused by an elbow to the head by Brazilian leftback Leonardo in the first half of the game.[14] United States were eliminated as Bebeto scored Brazil's winning goal. Tab Ramos was in the hospital for a few weeks where he was visited by a crying and apologetic Leonardo.[15]

Ramos saw more success in 1995 as a member of the U.S. team when it placed fourth at the Copa América.

On September 7, 1997, Ramos scored against Costa Rica in a 1-0 World Cup qualifier win. In 1998, he played in his third World Cup. Ramos made his last national team appearance on November 15, 2000, in a 4-0 U.S. win against Barbados. Two days later he announced his retirement from the national team. He finished his national team career with 81 caps and eight goals.

Ramos also played 8 games, scoring 3 goals, for the U.S. Futsal team which finished 3rd at the 1989 FIFA Futsal World Championship.

International goals

1April 30, 1989St. Louis, Missouri Costa Rica1–01-01990 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
2June 4, 1989East Rutherford, New Jersey Peru2–03-0Friendly
3May 30, 1992Washington, D.C. Republic of Ireland1–13–1Friendly
4Oct. 8, 1995Washington, D.C. Saudi Arabia3–34-3Friendly
5June 9, 1996Foxborough, Massachusetts Republic of Ireland1–12-1Friendly
6Sept. 7, 1997Portland, Oregon Costa Rica1–01-01998 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
7May 24, 1998Portland, Oregon Kuwait2–02-0Friendly
8Aug. 16, 2000Foxborough, Massachusetts Barbados6–07-02002 FIFA World Cup Qualifying

Coaching career


In 2004, with the help of partners, Ramos founded a soccer club based out of Aberdeen, New Jersey. NJSA 04 is currently one of four teams in New Jersey to participate in the United States Development Academy Soccer League.

United States U-20 national team

Ramos led the under-20 age group team to the final of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship where they lost to Mexico. The team qualified for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, however they failed to make it out of the group stage, finishing bottom with 1 point.

In November 2013, he signed a contract to remain in the position.[16] He won the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship with the United States, with assistant coaches Omid Namazi and Brad Friedel.[17]

United States men's national soccer team

On March 31, 2014, Ramos was appointed to the assistant coach position of the United States men's national soccer team by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, less than three months before the 2014 World Cup, replacing Martín Vásquez.[18]

Houston Dynamo

On October 25, 2019, Ramos was named head coach of Major League Soccer club Houston Dynamo.[19]

Personal life

He lives in Colts Neck, New Jersey, with his girlfriend Tracey and three children Alex, Kristen and Sarah.[20]


  1. "Player Profile". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  2. National Soccer Hall of Fame: Tab Ramos Archived 2013-07-09 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Tab Ramos: From Uruguay to Spain and Everywhere in Between". U.S. Soccer. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  4. Mifflin, Lawrie. "Doing a Star Turn for the Home Team, at Last", The New York Times, August 18, 1996. Accessed March 28, 2011.
  5. Jandoli, Ron. "The Century's Best – Boys' Soccer: Top 10 Players of each decade", The Star-Ledger, November 7, 1999, backed up by the Internet Archive as of January 10, 2003. Accessed September 11, 2008.
  6. "Ramos to Play in Spain", The New York Times, July 27, 1990. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  7. (in Spanish)La historia de Tito Vilanova, Tab Ramos y Aureli Altimira,, May 12th, 2012, Sport, May 12, 2012. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  8. Ramos Signs for 3 Years With Team in Spain, The New York Times, June 23, 1991. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  9. Cress, Doug. A Yank's Goal: Gain in Spain, The New York Times, March 11, 1992. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  10. U.S. Soccer Player Changes Teams, The New York Times, July 31, 1992. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  11. Ramos Signs With Major League Soccer, The New York Times, January 5, 1995. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  12. Ramos Set for Debut, The New York Times, April 26, 1996. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  13. Ramos to Announce His Retirement, Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2002. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  14. Harvey, Randy. Leonardo Says Elbow Wasn't Intentional : Brazil: He apologizes to Ramos but might have to sit out rest of tournament., Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1994. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  15. Thomsen, Ian. Ramos Weighs Risk on Soccer Field, The New York Times, December 8, 1994. Accessed July 5, 2012.
  16. "Source: Tab Ramos signs 4-year deal". 9 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  18. "Klinsmann Appoints Berti Vogts as U.S. MNT Special Advisor". U.S.Soccer.
  19. "Houston Dynamo name Tab Ramos as head coach". Houston Dynamo. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  20. Tab Ramos full biography at Archived 2012-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
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