Commentary

Tab Ramos: Italia '90 players had relentless desire to overachieve

Upon the 30th anniversary of the USA's 1990 World Cup appearance, we're checking in with the players who made the USA's first World Cup  appearance since 1950. Tab Ramos, who played for the USA at the 1983 U-20 World Cup and 1988 Olympics, was 23 when he started and played every minute of all three games for the USA at the 1990 World Cup.

SOCCER AMERICA: What's your favorite memory of the 1990 World Cup?

TAB RAMOS: Playing at Olympic Stadium in Rome vs Italy. It just does not get better than that.

SA: What part of your Italia '90 experience do you think had the most profound impact on your future career in soccer?  

TAB RAMOS: Playing against top players and adapting to a speed of play I had not experienced before.


In the USA's third and last game of the 1990 World Cup, Tab Ramos assisted on Bruce Murray's goal in the USA's 2-1 loss to Austria. The USA opened with a 5-1 loss to  Czechoslovakia and a 1-0 loss to host Italy.

SA: Can you share a Italia 90 anecdote we may not have known about?

TAB RAMOS: After we lost to Czechoslovakia 5-1 in the first game our training sessions were, as you can imagine, really intense to say the least. At one point, Bruce Murray and Eric Eichmann ended up tangled up in the net throwing punches at each other after fighting for a ball during a possession game. Unforgettable! ... and so funny.

Tab Ramos took charge of the Houston Dynamo for the 2020 season after coaching the USA at the last four men's U-20 World Cups.  The USA is the only nation that reached the quarterfinals of the last three U-20 World Cups.

SA: What do you think was the most important legacy from the USA's 1990 World Cup team?

TAB RAMOS: It was a group of players with relentless desire and resilience to overachieve. Just about every single player who wore the U.S. jersey in that World Cup has had an effect in the game of soccer in this country that laid the foundation for the next generation of players and for many generations to come, on and off the field. No other team will ever be able to make that claim.

* * * * * * * * * *

Tab Ramos played in three World Cups, two Copa Americas and the Olympics for the USA. His six world championship appearances as a player include the 1983 U-20 World Cup and 1989 Futsal World Championship. Upon retiring in 2002, Ramos founded the New Jersey youth club NJSA 04 (now part of the Cedar Stars Academy) and in 2008 coached the NJSA 04 Gunners to the U-14 U.S. Youth Soccer national title. He became the USA's U-20 head coach in 2011 and also served as assistant coach to the full national team at the 2014 World Cup. In total, he's been part of 11 world championships as player and coach.

Ramos' 1990 World Cup performance led him to Spain's Figueres and Real Betis. Ramos, who then played for Mexico's Tigres, was the first player signed by MLS for its 1996 launch.

USA 1990 World Cup Roster
(Where are they now)

Desmond Armstrong
Co-founder East Nash Soccer (youth); TV broadcaster.

Marcelo Balboa
TV analyst Univision and Colorado Rapids; Monarch High School head coach.

Jimmy Banks
Died at age 54 in 2019. Founded an inner-city Milwaukee youth soccer program and worked with Milwaukee Boy’s and Girl’s Club.

Brian Bliss
Sporting Kansas City technical director and VP of player personnel.

Paul Caligiuri
Head coach and technical director of NPSL Orange County FC.

Neil Covone
Partner with the Florida law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson.

John Doyle
Mustang Soccer (youth) Director of Coaching.

Eric Eichmann
Boca United (youth) director of coaching and player development.

John Harkes
Head coach/sporting director of USL's Greenville Triumph SC.

Kasey Keller
Seattle Sounders’ color commentator; assistant coach of Newport High School boys soccer.

Paul Krumpe
Loyola Marymount University head coach.

Chris Henderson
VP of soccer and sporting director of Seattle Sounders.

Tony Meola
Host on Sirius XM's "Counter Attack."

Bruce Murray
St. James Center for Soccer Excellence director of player development and parent engagement.

Tab Ramos
Houston Dynamo head coach.

John Stollmeyer
VP of investment firm Raymond James.

Christopher Sullivan
Sunnyvale Alliance SC (youth) coach.

Steve Trittschuh
Head coach of USL's Saint Louis FC.

David Vanole
Died in 2007 of heart attack. Was New England Revolution assistant coach.

Peter Vermes
Sporting Kansas City head coach.

Mike Windischmann
Teacher and coach at the Susan B. Anthony Academy in Queens.

Eric Wynalda
Most recently was head coach USL's Las Vegas Lights.

5 comments about "Tab Ramos: Italia '90 players had relentless desire to overachieve".
  1. Mike Lynch, July 12, 2020 at 11:28 a.m.

    Mike, Excellent article that shows not only of the tremendous achievement of that team then made up of mostly former college players, but also look at their legacy now. These are the successes resulting from their investment as young players to get an education and pursue top flight soccer, without having to make a choice as done in the rest of the world. Impressive then, impressive now! 

  2. Nick Gabris, July 13, 2020 at 12:12 p.m.

    Tab R. should have been selected MNT coach!

  3. John Richardson, July 13, 2020 at 11:13 p.m.

    He will be the next USMNT coach and the team will win  the World Cup 

  4. John Foust replied, July 14, 2020 at 1:56 p.m.

    John, that is a wonderful thought!  Even just becoming the next USMNT coach will be a huge positive!

  5. Santiago 1314, July 14, 2020 at 3:20 p.m.

    Great Person... Only Matched by his Competitive Desire for USA.!!!

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