Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
3. MLS: Red Bulls need the real Reyna
January 26th, 2007 1:58AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney
Senior Editor, Soccer America


By coming to MLS after more than dozen years overseas, Claudio Reyna has begun not only the final chapter of his playing career, but also closed out his tenure as the American who accomplished the most overseas.

There are others with impressive resumes. John Harkes won trophies and played more times at Wembley than most Englishmen. Kasey Keller's arrival overseas preceded Reyna's and he's still there. Brad Friedel has been among the top keepers in the Premier League since he transferred to Blackburn in 2001. Brian McBride has scored goals consistently since leaving MLS and current employer Fulham thinks enough of him to offer him more than $2 million to extend his stay by one more season. Steve Cherundolo has been a starter at Hannover for seven years.

Yet nobody matches Reyna's record of playing only in the top-flight for five teams in three countries: Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Glasgow Rangers, Sunderland and Manchester City.

True, Sunderland sold him to Manchester City after it was relegated from the English Premier League at the end of the 2002-03 season, but for a team that finished with only four wins in 38 games, the fact City was willing to pay nearly $4 million for Reyna is a testament to his abilities.

Either that, or then-manager Kevin Keegan was a twit for shelling out that much money for a player who -- in the eyes of many American fans and journalists -- doesn't do much and gets injured a lot. Reyna rarely does the spectacular -- the 50-yard slalom, the long-range thunderbolt, the stoppage-time bicycle kick - though how different the American World Cup could have been had his 25-yard blast hit the side netting instead of the goalpost with the USA trailing the Czech Republic, 1-0. That his U.S. career ended as it did against Ghana is cruelty incarnate. The best U.S. player on the ball coughed it up. Injury. Goal. Trouble.

What Reyna does adroitly is the essence of the game: move into the right spaces at the right time, control and keep the ball with touch and timing and balance, pass accurately and smartly. How greatly the New York Red Bulls will improve with Reyna is dependent not so much on him, but his teammates. His game is complementary, an enhancement of the players around him. His ideal role was once referred to as a "grafter," the player who can link defense and attack while filling a variety of roles within the same match depending on the situation.

He can take charge and run the attack, he can push the ball up the field, he can drift wide and deliver crosses, he can hit the target on free kicks, he can shoot from distance. He can also win tackles, cut off passing lanes, track runners and dribblers, and contest balls in the air. But if he's asked to do all of that every game, by midsummer, when he turns 34, the tank might already be nearly empty and his injury-plagued past will almost certainly recur.

European coaches weren't crazy or stupid to want Reyna. They saw in him an all-around midfielder especially proficient at using the ball shrewdly but also willing to stop the opposition. That's the Reyna Red Bull needs, not some fantastical mutation.

His true worth will be measured not so much by goals and assists and shots and corner kicks, but in games played and points accrued therein.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Bill Peterson    
"I don't think what's being called 'free agency' is very advantageous for the players. You look ...
MLS Trade Central: Team-by-team offseason moves    
MLS clubs spent the week putting the final touches on their rosters ahead of their Week ...
National networks step up MLS coverage    
MLS begins a new eight-year agreement with dedicated time slots on three networks. Friday's LA Galaxy-Chicago ...
Video Pick: Chelsea star injured without playing     
Chelsea defender Nemanja Matic was suspended for its English League Cup final win over Tottenham last ...
Josh Perez spurs big win for U.S. U-17s     
The USA can clinch a spot at the 2015 World Cup with a win in its ...
Top 10 new reasons why to get excited about MLS    
The Major League Soccer kicks off its new season this weekend. There's a lot to get ...
What They're Saying: Danny Cruz    
"This wasn't an easy decision. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my ...
id2 all-stars tie, lose in first matches in Buenos Aires    
The id2 all-stars, U.S. Club Soccer's touring under-14 selection, played to a 3-3 tie with Velez ...
Moreno scores in Tijuana's Copa MX victory    
U.S. U-20 forward Amando Moreno has yet to play for Tijuana in its charge to the ...
Former MLS players dominate MLS coaching ranks    
The first 19 MLS titles have been won by 12 coaches. Six of the 20 current ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives