FIRST ON SBI
Photo by ISIphotos.com
Ultimately, the injuries were just too much to overcome.
After a 14-year professional career that saw him play in Germany, England and Scotland before returning to the United States, Claudio Reyna has decided it is time to stop playing. The former U.S. national team captain and New York Red Bulls midfielder is retiring immediately, sources within MLS told SBI on Tuesday.
The Red Bulls have scheduled a press conference for Wednesday at 2pm at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, the school where Reyna’s decorated career began two decades ago.
Leg and back injuries limited Reyna, who turns 35 later this month, to just six games this season, and 27 games total during his two seasons with the Red Bulls after joining the club on a free transfer from Manchester City.
Reyna’s retirement is expected to free up a designated player slot the team is very likely to use to sign a forward to replace departed U.S. national team forward Jozy Altidore, who was sold to Villarreal last month. (Update- according to a source, the Red Bulls will not be using the DP slot this year.)
According to sources, Reyna will still be paid the remainder of his $1.25 million contract, but the Red Bulls will pay the remaining portion of the salary that MLS was due to pay. This would allow the club to fill his salary slot and designated player slot (I’m seeking confirmation on this from the league, with a source just telling me they don’t believe this to be the case).
Reyna joined the Red Bulls prior to the 2007 season as its first designated player. He played 27 matches over the course of two seasons, including six matches this year, but nagging leg injuries prevented him from ever having the impact expected of him when he was signed for a two-year, $2.5 million contract by then Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena.
Reyna showed flashes of the composure and skill with the Red Bulls that made him so successful in Europe, but ultimately his body could not handle the rigors of playing on artificial turf and in the physical MLS at the age of 34. He was repeatedly forced to miss matches with a variety of injuries, and after considerable deliberation, Reyna made the final decision to stop playing.
Reyna’s last public appearance came two weeks ago in a charity game with Steve Nash and Thierry Henry in Manhattan. At that match, Reyna stated his desire to come back, but at that point discussions were already underway with the Red Bulls about the possibility of him retiring.
Reyna spent a dozen seasons in Europe, playing for Wolfsburg in Germany, Sunderland and Manchester City in England, and Glasgow Rangers in Scotland. He was regarded as one of the best players ever produced by the United States for his composure and skill in central midfield.
His career reached its peak at the 2002 World Cup, where he helped lead the United States to the World Cup quarterfinals. His inspired performance in that tournament earned him All-Tournament honors, making him the first American to ever receive such a distinction.
It remains to be seen just how the Red Bulls will be allowed to use the vacated designated player slot and salary cap space left open by Reyna’s retirement. With the designated player mechanism only in its second year of existence, MLS is in uncharted territories when it comes to handling a situation like this. According to sources, the Red Bulls were expected to pay Reyna’s entire remaining salary, believed to be slightly more than $600,000, a figure that includes the $200,000 pro-rated amount due Reyna from the league (MLS pays up to $400,000 of a designate player’s salary, less for a team’s second designated player, with the team paying the rest.)
I’ll share my thoughts on Reyna’s retirement later. For now, share your own thoughts on Reyna’s retirement below.