Claudio Reyna: Captain America

Claudio Reyna: Captain America

Player Profile: Claudio Reyna

Date of Birth: 20/07/1973

Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)

Position: Midfielder

National Team: United States Men’s National Team

International Caps: 112

International Goals: 8

Club Career

After the World Cup in 1994, Claudio Reyna was garnering interest from teams across Europe. This interest landed him a contract with famed German club Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The move would have been full of excitement for a young American, but he found it difficult to break it into the first team.

Reyna made just 26 appearances for Leverkusen in two seasons before he was loaned to fellow Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg in the summer of 1997. Having failed to make an impact at Leverkusen, Reyna was desperate to make an impression at his new club.

Unlike his struggles with Leverkusen, Reyna had an instant impact for Wolfsburg. He quickly became a mainstay in the starting eleven, and even became the first American to captain a European club when he captained the Lower Saxony-based club.

Reyna appeared 48 times in two seasons for Wolfsburg before he was once again on the move.

In April of 1999, Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers bought the center midfielder from Leverkusen. In an interesting transactional quirk, Rangers paid $826,000 to Wolfsburg, and $2.76 million to Leverkusen, despite the player being owned by Leverkusen.

Having spent his entire career in Germany and with the U.S. Men’s National Team playing as his team’s creative midfielder in the center of the pitch, he spent the majority of his time at Ibrox playing on the right-wing.

During his time with Rangers, he appeared in 64 games and scored 10 goals. Perhaps none of those goals was bigger than his game-winning strike against Italian side Parma that secured Rangers entry into the 1999-2000 UEFA Champions League. 

Claudio Reyna scores against Parma.

Before he left Rangers, Reyna was able to lift his first bits of silverware as a professional. In the 1999-2000 season, Rangers did the domestic double by winning the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Cup. Those would be the only team trophies Reyna would win in his professional career.

In 2001, Reyna moved south with a transfer to the English Premier League side Sunderland. The Tyne and Wear based club paid Rangers $7.64 million for Reyna’s services. This was a record fee for Sunderland at the time.

Despite the hype surrounding the big fee and the quality of the player, it was not a match made in heaven. Sunderland got relegated, and Reyna suffered an injured ACL. Unfortunately for Reyna, injuries would become a consistent feature of the rest of his playing career.

The injury caused Reyna to miss the rest of the 2002-03 season. In total, Reyna played just 28 games for Sunderland and scored 3 goals.

From Sunderland, Reyna moved west to Manchester City in the summer of 2003. He was sold to the Citizens for $4.28 million after a potential move to Fulham for the same price fell through.

The move to City caused a bit of controversy throughout England. According to Fulham manager Chris Coleman, “Claudio was with us yesterday having his photo taken in a Fulham jersey. I was even discussing with him what training schedule we would have for him.” Nevertheless, Reyna became a Manchester City player.

Maybe it was a hex put on him by Chris Coleman, or perhaps it was just the injury bug biting again, but Reyna’s time at City was yet again interrupted by frequent injuries. In his first season, Reyna managed just 30 matches in all competitions. The following season he missed a total of six months.

In three and a half seasons in Manchester, Reyna made just 87 appearances. Despite the injuries, Reyna was very popular with the fans and was often referred to as Captain America because of his leadership with the American national team.

In January 2007, Manchester City agreed to terminate Reyna’s contract so he could move home to finish his career in Major League Soccer.

Reyna signed with the New York Red Bulls, who were coached by his former college and national team coach Bruce Arena. A move back to the States did not help prolong his career for very long though.

Reyna played in just 27 games for Red Bulls and eventually retired in July 2008. Reyna finished his career having played in 282 games, scoring 23 goals.

Despite having had much of the latter stages of his career curtailed by injuries, Reyna made it more possible for American talent to be given a chance in Europe, and especially in England.

Reyna retired from football as one of the greatest American players of all-time, and likely their greatest creative midfielder ever.

International Career

Claudio Reyna got his first cap in 1994 and was a member of the U.S. team that played at the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Unfortunately, Reyna was unable to play in any matches due to injury.

Reyna became known globally for his performances for the national team at the 2002 World Cup when the U.S. made it all the way to the quarter-finals before losing to the eventual runner-up, Germany. For his stellar performances, he became just the 3rd American to be named in the World Cup all-tournament team and the first since the 1950 edition of the tournament.

He was once again charged with captaining the Yanks at the 2006 World Cup. The tournament was disappointing for Reyna and the Americans as they crashed out in the group stage, despite being ranked in the top 5 in the world in the lead up to the tournament.

The day after being eliminated in the tournament, Reyna announced his retirement. During the course of his career with the national team, Reyna appeared 112 times and scored 8 goals. He represented the United States at 4 World Cups and two Olympic games.

Where is Claudio Reyna now?

Since his retirement from playing, Reyna has stayed involved in soccer. Between 2013 and 2019 Reyna was Sporting Director of New York City FC. He oversaw the process of the team’s inception from expansion team to its maturity in Major League Soccer.

His club building skills will be tested once again as he was named Sporting Director for new MLS expansion team Austin FC. The team does not begin to play until Spring 2021, so he will have plenty of work to do building the squad and filling out the staff.

Did you know? Interesting facts about Claudio Reyna

– Reyna’s father was a professional footballer in Argentina and went through the Independiente youth system.

– Reyna won 3 National Championships while playing college soccer at the University of Virginia under future USMNT coach Bruce Arena.

– Married to Danielle Egan, a former United States Women’s National Team member.

Claudio Reyna is the father of Gio Reyna, who became the youngest American to play in Bundesliga in 2020 with Borussia Dortmund.