MLS- New York Red Bulls

Reyna display a slight to Red Bulls fans


Claudio Reyna calmly placed the ball on the artificial turf where the penalty spot was and readied himself for a chance to score a goal. After a brief interruption from an opponent, Reyna confidently strided up to the ball and blasted it past the goalkeeper, drawing applause from the New York fans who ringed the venue.

No, this didn’t take place at Giants Stadium. This took place at Nike Field in Chinatown at a charity game. The opponent who interrupted Reyna’s kick was a joking Thierry Henry, who drew a yellow card that made many of the fans in attendance laugh.

Red Bulls fans weren’t laughing at all. Not at the news that Reyna, the same player who has played in just six of the team’s 13 matches this year, was able to play in a soccer game despite being too injured to join his team on its current West Coast swing, or play in any of the team’s past five matches.

For many Red Bulls fans, it was the ultimate insult and the last straw.

That Reyna played in the event, which was played to help raise funds for Reyna’s and NBA star Steve Nash’s charitable foundations, wasn’t that big an offense. Playing in that half-speed match can’t compare in any way with the physical demands of playing in an MLS match. The problem was the symbolism of his participation, and the perception that he cared more about playing in a celebrity pick-up game than being with the team that actually pays him is what turned it into a crime in the eyes of Red Bulls fans. The fact that injured Red Bulls forward Juan Pablo Angel attended but didn’t play in the match only made Reyna’s participation look that much worse.

Do I think it was a crime? Playing in the game itself wasn’t that bad. Where Reyna failed miserably is in communicating with the public about the charity event beforehand. Instead of failing to talk about the possibility of playing (he decline interview requests last week), Reyna should have been out front talking about the charity event and about his potential participation in the match. It would have given Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio a chance to state whether or not he thought Reyna playing in the match was risky or even acceptable. The news might have been met with snickers and objections, but not nearly the reaction elicited when Red Bulls fans had to find out after the fact that Reyna played the entire charity game.

That isn’t what happened though. Not only did Reyna not spread the word beforehand about his potential participation in the match, the Red Bulls had hardly any involvement in the charity event and sources tell me that the club scrambled to get involved in some capacity the day before the match.

Reyna discussed his participation after the match and pointed out that he was close to coming back to action with the Red Bulls, and that his participation in Wednesday’s match could only help his progress, but that explanation rang hollow coming after the event rather than before it.

What happens next? It is safe to say that if Reyna doesn’t play for the Red Bulls very soon there will be even more questions raised about him playing in Wednesday’s charity game and even more venom from Red Bulls fans who will have every right to feel slighted.

  • A.S.

    Also, as I commented yesterday, Reyna’s participation in a half-speed game, with a bunch of basketball players and old, fat dudes (like Marc Stein from ESPN), really says nothing about his fitness to play for RBNY.

    It’s as if David Ortiz were to play little league with his son and Red Sox fans get upset that he isn’t back playing in the Majors.

    I understand that people are upset that Reyna’s been hurt so much in the last year and a half, and agree that his signing has been a complete waste so far, but to take it out on him for playing in his own charity game is completely ridiculous.


  • eric

    As a neutral fan, I have to say that most of my interest in NY is gone with Jozy out the door. 2005 was about the last time I had any real hope in Renya, and while my bets where on him being a bust, I’m still disappointed that he, JA, and JPA couldn’t put up a memorable run. Fittingly, the best game from the era (NY 5, LA 4), I have no clue if Renya played or not.

    My sympathies, RB fans, MLS would be a lot better with a strong NY franchise.


  • Z

    You are stupid, i was at the match and it was basically a glorified kick around. You can never knock somebody for making an appearance for charity. If he was fit to play, the redbulls would have him with the team and playing, it wouldn’t be his decision. If you want to write something about the match you should write about the money that they raised to help kids or the number of New Yorkers that came out to support it…not this garbage about Reyna.


  • ManicMessiah

    Of course Reyna playing in that game, by itself, is not a big deal. If Angel was in the same situation, I probably wouldn’t have cared one bit.

    Why? Because he came in last year and scored 19 goals, and it took a concussion to knock him out of that 2nd match against the Revs. Has he been injured this year? Yes, but he played through the injury for awhile.

    Honestly, I’m trying to muster up some actual emotion about it, but I can’t really. I don’t know how I could expect anything out of Reyna right now, so it’s hard to be disappointed or surprised by anything.


  • Haig

    “My sympathies, RB fans, MLS would be a lot better with a strong NY franchise. ”

    We just want players willing to bleed for the team, not someone’s idea of a “strong NY franchise.”

    And I’m starting to think we DO have those players. Except for Reyna, who was certainly the butt of many jokes on the team plane.


  • Aguinaga

    A.S. – You don’t get it do you? What part about “Playing in the game itself wasn’t that bad” in Ives’ post did you not understand? It’s about how Reyna decides to carry himself as this team’s DP. I don’t know the guy, so his apparent air of arrogance could simply be ignorance or worse, indifference. But then, think about his actions, or lack thereof, and think about how if you were in his shoes, how you could endear yourself to this team and its fans. Then ask yourself why those things aren’t happening. Maybe then you’ll begin to understand what’s got people so fed up.


  • doug

    do you think SAF would of put up with Rooney playing a charity game when he was out with a metatarsal last year? I think not


  • Paul

    Based on many posts, it seems Reyna’s obliviousness to the nightmarish PR situation facing both him and the team as a whole is also part of a larger problem with the club. Intentionally or not, Reyna may be predisposed to ignore or avoid media coverage. But the club as a whole has also long been tone-deaf when it comes to media relations. An aware and media-savvy club would have made sure that its DP, and one of its most visible players, was available and open to the media on a regular basis.


  • andacagar

    GET RID OF THIS CLOWN. Bring in somebody with heart. I’d rather have Steve Nash play in his spot. Cant we just cut him and use that DP on another player? I used to root for this guy even though I always knew he wasn’t that good just because he’s Argentine and from Jersey.


  • golfstrom

    the nerve of that guy to participate in a charity game. it’s a disgrace to RBNY, USMNT, energy drinks, and the Pope.


  • Dirty Jerzey

    To be fair to Reyna, he did publicize the charity event during the FSC pregame show before the FC Dallas game on Saturday, which would mean that Red Bull should’ve known about the game at least 4-5 days in advance. And when Claudio talked about it, he mentioned that him and Nash thought of it first only a month ago.

    I’m not even a Claudio apologist, far from it. Trading away a motivated Amado for a DP slot to get Mr. Little Things was horrible then, and more horrible now. But this charity match isn’t the last straw.


  • Joamiq

    This is the last straw. I can’t believe how far he’s fallen in my eyes. Claudio, you’re dead to me. Retire. Now.


  • hincha tim

    I’m not a fan of the NYRB and very early on (as opposed to Ives) I pointed out the stupidity of signing him as a DP. However, he could have at least earned some of his DP money if he had used his position, even if he was injured, to be a leader on the team and mentored the younger players. Part of that is going above and beyond what is expected of him. There should be no doubt from the fans and his teammates that he is committed to the team. He should show that he is doing everything (and more) to rehab as best and quickly as possible, and even when not on the field to support the team (think of Christian Gomez in the stands with DCU).

    No matter what other teams and fans think of Blanco (I hate his whining/flopping) I have gained a lot of respect for him since he joined the MLS. By all accounts, he spends extra time after training sessions working on his game, and helping younger players. Ironic that Blanco is helping American soccer more than “Captain America”.


  • kco

    Is Reyna even still on the roster? July 1 is when salaries are guaranteed so it’s not to late for Red Bull to get it’s money back.


  • Andrew

    You guys talk all this craziness about Claudio but your the first to line up on a two hour line just to get the guy’s autograph. Its pathetic! I am sure that it will happen again at the final fan appreciation day signing. I would love to see a group of ESC’er’s who say they are the hardcore fans actually do something hardcore…maybe they should show up to the signing and boycott or put a human blockade from anyone who says they want a Reyna signing…be vocal when it counts…the guy will be retiring and be a couple of feet away and there is nothing better than having him know how we feel.

    Yeah right…that will never happen…until this group steps up to do something besides cheer and yell for an entire game I will just keep those letters in lower-case….great job esc



    You all DO know that a one-off non-competitive soccer game where the result doesn’t matter and where no one is out to injure is very, very different from a competitive football fixture, right? Reyna’s injury may have healed, but he may not be fully fit for competitive football yet.


  • A.S.

    “You all DO know that a one-off non-competitive soccer game where the result doesn’t matter and where no one is out to injure is very, very different from a competitive football fixture, right?”

    Apparently, most people on this thread do NOT know that.


  • yakimashorty

    This report is an awful case of manufactured outrage created to appeal to Reyna-bashers. Playing in a slow-paced charity match is not a personal affront to Red Bull fans no matter how much “symbolism” you think you see in it. Reyna should be lauded for his charitable effort, not treated like a villain. This piece of gratuitous Reyna-bashing is way over the line.


  • DLL

    I’m recently transplanted from NYC to Cali, and I knew about this pickup game (I even let some friends in NY know about it!).

    I have to say the whole idea of “CR is overpaid and always hurt so he should retire, it’s the right thing to do” is a load of crap. You all make it sound like Claudio held RBNY up with a gun in an alley to pay him. They agreed to the deal, so did he. He’s always been injury prone (certainly in recent years). He’s entitled to get as much money as he can, and they agreed to pay it. It’s neither his fault, nor his responsibility, to do anything other than what he’s asked to by the club. We all know the NY MLS franchise is a disaster, those of you who REALLY care about them will be the first one’s to acknowledge that. The team is poorly run, always has been. The PR department are, frankly, incompetant. They don’t market the team in New York City, only in NJ, and it shows. You are all taking out your frustrations on the franchise’s lack of winning, communication and good decision making on CR. I’m not saying he’s a great player (or ever was, though he’s always been good) but if he doesn’t want to talk to the media, or respond to the negative BS that you guys heap on him constantly, can you blame him? I’ve never met the guy, but he seems like he does the best he can. He was quoted after the game as saying that the RB’s, and Osorio, knew where he was and were OK with it. I’m guessing it was a mob scene over there, so why would it need more publicity (it was all over the net, including the NY Times)?

    Grow up, all of you. Stop supporting a poorly run franchise. Direct your ire at RB and Agoos and whoever this new Managing Director guy is. CR is just doing the best he can with an old, tired, creaky body.


  • hincha tim

    United and A.S.

    You all DO know the definition and characteristics of LEADERSHIP? Do CR’s actions with the NYRD since he was signed reflect those? As I said before, I’m anything but a NYRB fan, so I’m chuckling over all this.


  • brentmcd

    Look at Beckham last year for Galaxy. See Cannavaro at the Euro for Italy. A team leader and captain should be there for the team, injured or not.


  • Haig

    “Grow up, all of you. Stop supporting a poorly run franchise.”

    Another clown who got FSC last year and thinks he knows everything about soccer.

    We support our team not for the management but for the players. So get lost.


  • Haig

    “But this charity match isn’t the last straw.”

    But it is totally emblematic of the disdain he has for the team who signs his checks and the supporters of that team. He’s the one getting charity, not his foundation.


  • DLL

    “Another clown who got FSC last year and thinks he knows everything about soccer.”

    Wow, you told me! Just because you comment on this blog every day doesn’t mean YOU know anything about soccer, it just means you have a lot of time on your hands. If we all had to produce our bona fides to comment on this site my guess is no one would have much to say.

    It’s all just out opinion, and in this case, this is just Ives’ opinion (love the blog Ives, read it every day). I have my opinion, you disagree. Fair enough. Now rip me again…


  • A.S.

    “United and A.S.

    You all DO know the definition and characteristics of LEADERSHIP? Do CR’s actions with the NYRD since he was signed reflect those? As I said before, I’m anything but a NYRB fan, so I’m chuckling over all this.”

    No, Reyna hasn’t really been a leader since he joined RBNY. It’s difficult to be a leader when you’re hurt all the time.

    That said, Reyna’s playing in a charity game has nothing at all to do with his leadership skills (or lack thereof). For anyone to be “insulted” by this is completely ridiculous.

    What’s really strange is that nobody can put forth any rational reason to be insulted, and yet here we have a gazillion comments outraged at his playing.

    Reyna’s playing in this event says absolutely nothing about his fitness for a real competitive match.

    Reyna’s playing in this event says absolutely nothing about his “leadership” of the team.

    And Reyna’s supposed lack of “communication” about the event – Ives’ weird comment – says nothing either, since the venue couldn’t hold any more people even if Reyna spent every day of the last 3 weeks publicizing it.


  • onionsack


    I couldn’t care less about whether he played in this or not, i couldn’t care less if he doesn’t talk to the media. What i do care about is this punk is sucking up an EXTREMELY VALUABLE DP spot and producing f*ck all. His presence alone has cost this team a chance to improve and sign a world class caliber player to lead this team to a much needed trophy of some kind.

    What i do care about is this guy is making millions here to sit around and do crap and when presented with the option to help the team and free up the DP spot he refused.

    What i do care about is this punk when he actually does play, which isnt often, he stinks up the joint. 0 goals and 3 bullsh*t MLS secondary assists in a season and a half.

    HE SUCKS.SUCKS.SUCKS. He neds to retire and get the f*ck lost. I dont care what the man did for the US at this point because all he has done for this club i love..is jack sh*t.



  • papi grande

    Ives, stop defending this guy (read: Claudio). CLAUDIO IS A PUNK…..PLAIN AND SIMPLE. Truly unprofessional on his part….that is the true crime here.


  • HomeyBoehme

    I have to agree that people are angry at Reyna because he has become the symbol of all that is wrong with NYRB – things that are not Reyna’s fault. Reyna’s presence and actions (or lack thereof) magnify the incredible stupity of NYRB’s decision-making:

    1.) Guaranteed contract and DP slot to an often injured player whose best years were definitely behind him. 2.) Terrible or in most cases non-existent PR by the organization in promoting the team or any of their players. 3.) Mismanagement of the franchise as a whole – coaching, personnel, front office, ownership etc.

    That said, it is certainly fair to question the professionalism of a player who plays in a charity match when he can’t and hasn’t been playing for his club. JPA did not play because he has been injured, and in not playing showed respect to the club and the fans by not risking any injury. Reyna did play THE ENTIRE MATCH, and in doing so certainly raised questions about his professionalism to the club and the fans.

    If Reyna had played for 5 or 10 minutes and then sat for the remainder, I think people would have been fine with that. However, he certainly insulted the fans by playing that entire charity match when he isn’t playing in any capacity for NYRB.

    So fans do have a right to be upset at Reyna for a lack of class/professionalism, but I don’t think Reyna should be blamed for the mistakes of an entire franchise that made this situation possible.


  • Slugger

    I want to know why Reyna and Nash scheduled the game for this date? Had CR been healthy, wouldn’t he have missed his own event because RB were out west? How could he know, a month out, that’d he would be available for this charity match?


  • clint dempsey

    why talk to snakes that ask loaded questions.they have the answer before it comes out.


  • Kim


    Thin criticisms. Let me see if I have this right- your problem with the situation isn’t that he has shirked his responsibilities to the club or that his participation in this event was at the expense of fulfilling his contract obligations as his club went on a road trip. It’s that he didn’t properly prep the media so as to avoid misinformed criticism? Dude, I thought that was what you were for- to get the story right and help readers help readers appreciate all things soccer from a more informed perspective. How about instead of committing to some criticism and risk coming off like some teenage ‘oh my god’ gossip monger, you get the story right? New York fans disappointment is understandable but misplaced- here’s why. Honestly, Reyna owes no one an apology. I am sure he isn’t enjoying being injured and would have a different script to the end of his career- but it is what it is. And that certainly is no fault of his.

    Get off Captain America bitches!


  • CM

    His heart is clearly not with the team. I think he had all of the best intentions when he signed for the team last year, and whether or not the turf at GS caused his injuries, he hasn’t lived up to expectations – and he won’t over the next/last few months of his time with RBNY. If he is able to “come back from injury” and actually help RBNY, great. Otherwise just start the countdown to the end of his time in MLS.

    It is a disappointing, frustrating and sad end of a career, but it is the end.


  • onionsack

    Kim you are a sheep. Your exactly the kind of fan NYRB hopes to have. Dont critisize, dont ask questions, just nod and go along with the company line.

    Fans here, the ones that actually know a thing or two about this sport and this team all decried the signing 16 months ago as an obvious Tab Ramos part II signing, and have once again as they often are, proven right.

    This guy may have been great once, he may deserve many rounds of applause for his US career…but he deserved a swift kick in the ass out the back door here for his current club because he has been a consistant disappointment here. On the field, off the field, hell outerspace probably..the guy is a complete waste of a DP spot, a complete waste of a roster spot. He is always hurt, and always underwhelming when he isn’t.

    His refusal to renegotiate his contract or accpet a buyout comeplely hamstrung this team’s chances to go out an get a real difference maker that could help the team win. As a fan the success of the team comes first. We expect our players to also do what is right by our team.

    Reyna’s refusal signifies his personal desires are above that over the club and it’s fans and deserves every bit of outrage and critisism he gets.

    Attacking Ives over simply puting the most recent afront to the fans in perspective shows you are a complete and utter tool. Get bent.


  • kofi_x5

    I concur with Briguy

    “This is precisely how I feel about Reyna. I stopped caring about him the first time he pulled up lame this year. He’s not worth yelling at, not worth talking to, and not worth caring about at this point.

    If he trots back out, and does some good things, then it’s a bonus, but nothing more. He’s got no future with RBNY.

    My attention now is squarely focused on the team of scrappers that has been seriously nutting up and getting results the last few weeks. I watched the game with utter joy last night, seeing guys like Ubi, Eche, and Gilkerson (WTF!) play with heart and desire.

    I realize Guadalajara is in preseason and all that other stuff. But I was happy to see guys like Roth get minutes. We completely dominated that game for long stretches last night, and I think the friendly was extremely important, as it’s allowing this team of no-names to further their on field chemistry.

    Reyna? He’s invisible to me.”


  • Dan D

    Risky. That is all I can say. Anybody can get injured in sports taking no contact at all. Why risk hurting yourself when you are in season? I remember(I’m sure many of you do too) Chris Armas playing a friendly tune up game against Uruguay just before the 2002 World Cup. Nobody touched him, nobody was near him, he moved awkardly and fell to the ground. He blew his knee out and he was out for the 2002 World cup. Pablo Mastreoni was in. Why risk injury in a charity game? The NBA guys and European Footballers are out of season. Bad choice by CR, considering he is already injured.

    Sadly, CR has not produced anything of quality for the Red Bulls, time for him to contribute meaningfully for the team or move on. His DP spot is costly.


  • John Martin

    Ives, how can you write this?? After reading this article, I went back and re-read your June 2006 article, which I loved, “End of an Era”. You discussed Claudio in the 2002 and 2006 WC’s, and defended him against his critics. Why the change of heart? Yes, he’s getting paid lots of $$ now and not playing much, but so is Beckham. Can’t we give the guy, a guy who you apparently loved and respected and called America’s best, a bit of a break? Seems to me like you may be airing a personal grievance, perhaps something that happened between you and CR? Maybe not, I’m just surprised to read this article. Cheers.


  • Ives

    John, the article wasn’t about a personal grievance at all. It was my opinion on what Reyna did and that’s it. I still respect him and have been one of his biggest defenders for years, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore what I, and a lot of other people, considered a bad decision and a real insult to Red Bulls fans. He could have handled it much better, that was the main point of the piece.


  • Michael Wilson

    Ives, another great blog, my friend.

    While I don’t necessarily agree with your assessment of what was and was not an issue, I do agree that he needed to openly communicate his intentions to our club and management.

    He’s run out of friends in our supporters section, and many of them are beyond coming back to his side. We as a group feel that this appearance IS a huge slap in the face to us, the club and his teammates. If you can’t play in our matches or fly with the team then stay at home and watch from your living room. Or come out and support them with your supporters club who go to every away match! Playing in a charity match is acceptable to most when you’re not conflicting your schedule with that of the club you play for. What would have been the excuse if he was healthy? Would they have switched the match to Sunday instead?

    These are questions he should be made to answer… he’s a former USA captain and a role model to young athletes in this country… this is the example you set. Wonderful.

    Thanks so much, Claudio. We’re happy your little charity match got the cameras flashing and the pockets emptying… don’t stress over your club at all. If you had gotten injured what would you have to say for yourself?

    Would you do us all a favor here and retire? Or at the very least restructure your contract to free up a DP spot for someone who can actually play to the level the spots were designed for??


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