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Reyna's Sad Send-Off
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 23rd, 2006 3:02PM

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What a way to go out: caught in possession in the last third of the field, tackle leads to painful injury, giveaway leads to goal, goal leads to World Cup exit. It was not a good day for captain Claudio Reyna against Ghana yesterday, a day that would be his last on the international stage. After the U.S. crashed out of the tournament, Reyna, wearing a brace to support his MCL injury, announced he was retiring from international soccer. Brian McBride and Kasey Keller are expected to follow suit. Reyna, ever calm, responded to the cruel irony with equanimity. "Thinking back from when I started the first game to now, it's amazing to think how far the team's come and how far the sport has come," he said. "If anything, the expectations have changed." They certainly have, so much so that Bruce Arena's job could be in doubt now that the Americans failed to qualify. Reyna's schoolboy error was the catalyst for Ghana's victory, to be sure: the normally sure-footed player was caught on the ball with no cover behind him. Haminu Dramani, the 20-year-old Ghana midfielder who stole the ball, was able to easily slot it home past Keller. The Americans worked hard to get back into it, scoring a great equalizer, but the penalty before halftime killed their momentum. Without Reyna, the U.S. had a harder time generating meaningful attacks. Despite a flurry of chances around the 65th minute, including a McBride header off the goal post, the Americans never really looked like scoring. The future now belongs to the likes of Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey, who was probably the brightest spot for the U.S. in the whole tournament. Reyna will be missed; he definitely deserved a more fitting send-off. As Dempsey said, "It's tough to see a guy that meant so much to American soccer go out the way he did."

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