So long, Claudio

Claudio Reyna has retired from soccer.  The announcement came earlier today, after a string of recent injuries no doubt made worse by the crappy field turf the Red Bulls and so many other MLS teams insist on playing upon.

Claudio was Captain America for about ten years.  He was arguably the best field player on the best ever U.S. squad (in 2002), the Captain, and as good a midfielder as anyone to lace up his boots for the red, white, and blue.  He was named to the all World Cup Squad  in 2002.  Ask Edgar Davids and Luis Figo about him.  Ask Totti or Blanco.  He was so often the guy who held up play for the U.S. and played the smart pass, or won the key tackle.  The guy who dictated tempo and led to the assist or goal.  He was arguably even better as club player, at Wolfsburg, Rangers, Sunderland…

Sometimes you wanted him to play faster, be a little more selfish, but that wasn’t his game.

A couple of memories stick out for me:  when he was dominant against Portugal in the 02 World Cup, then drifting out to the wing to spell Mexico’s doom two games later in the quarterfinals.  When he rang the post against the Czechs in the 06 World Cup after the U.S. had gone down a goal; I thought when he hit it this was finally his chance to score the heroic goal.  He was awesome against Italy the next game, but too gassed against Ghana at age 32 a few days later.  Now two years after he’s calling it quits.

I expect to see him pop up on the radar screen again in a few years–hopefully in coaching but maybe in the media.  Reyna has always been pure class; he’s set the table for the next generation of U.S. soccer player.  So long, Claudio…


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