AUSTIN, Texas – Austin FC, the 27th club in Major League Soccer (MLS), announced today that Claudio Reyna has joined the Club as Sporting Director to build and oversee soccer operations. In his previous executive position at New York City FC (NYCFC), Reyna was the first employee and architect of the launch of NYCFC’s soccer operations where he helped establish a successful first team and academy. Reyna managed both the first team and academy operations from NYCFC’s formation in 2013 to the recently completed 2019 season in which NYCFC finished first in the Eastern Conference’s regular season standings and qualified for the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League in 2020. NYCFC consistently qualified for MLS playoffs during Reyna’s tenure as Sporting Director, and from 2016 - 2019 NYCFC accumulated an MLS leading number of regular season points (231) as compared to any other team during the same four (4) year period.
As Austin FC’s chief soccer officer, Reyna will report directly to Austin FC Majority Owner and CEO Anthony Precourt and will work alongside Austin FC President Andy Loughnane to collaboratively build Austin’s first major league team. Reyna and Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff, who were teammates on multiple U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) rosters including the World Cup squads in 2002 and 2006, will immediately begin the process of building Austin FC’s technical staff and roster in advance of the Club’s inaugural season in 2021. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the pair famously combined to setup the historic Brian McBride goal in the Round of 16 match versus Mexico which helped put the USMNT through to the quarter finals.
“Claudio Reyna’s appointment as Sporting Director of Austin FC is a historic moment in the brief existence of our Club, and on behalf of Two Oak Ventures we are delighted to welcome Claudio and his family to Austin,” said Anthony Precourt, Majority Owner and CEO of Two Oak Ventures and Austin FC. “Claudio is an exceptionally qualified talent as a highly-decorated US soccer legend and an experienced executive who understands the dynamic nature of MLS as well as the global marketplace. His unrivaled experience and accomplishments, combined with his impeccable reputation as a leader within a global soccer enterprise, will provide our Club with a strong foundation to build a very special team and soccer culture here in Austin.”
Reyna joins Austin FC after leading soccer operations for City Football Group’s (the parent company of Manchester City F.C.) New York-based MLS club. Under Reyna’s leadership tenure, NYCFC advanced to the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals in four straight seasons (2016 – 2019) in addition to recording an Eastern Conference-leading 21 wins during the 2019 regular season. Reyna is credited with building a competitive first team and academy in New York from the ground up, through the development of young talent and leveraging an extensive international and domestic scouting network that ultimately produced a range of players, including the recent transfer of a 16-year old NYCFC Academy defender to Borussia Monchengladbach for the highest collected transfer fee for a 16-year old in league history. Reyna also played a central role in the development and construction of NYCFC’s training facility, another experience that will be highly relevant in Austin given Austin FC’s recent announcement that it will soon build St. David’s Performance Center, the $45M state-of-the-art training facility.
In addition to Reyna’s achievements as an MLS expansion club executive, Reyna holds the distinction of being one of the most accomplished American-born soccer players of all time. Reyna, who speaks fluent Spanish and conversational German, is the son an Argentinian father and Portuguese American mother, and enjoyed a remarkable playing career while competing professionally from 1994 to 2008, as well as representing the United States from 1994 to 2006. Reyna’s club career as a standout midfielder spanned 282 games and 23 goals and included the honor of being voted by his teammates at Wolfsburg as the club’s youngest ever Captain, the first American-born player to captain a major European team. On the international stage he achieved significant accolades and honors, including his tenure as captain of the USMNT at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He is one of only three (3) American players ever to be named to a FIFA World Cup All-Star team (2002 Korea / Japan) and was named to four (4) USMNT FIFA World Cup squads (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006), finishing his international career with 112 caps and eight (8) goals. Reyna also represented the United States as an Olympian having been named to the U.S. Olympic Team for both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games.
“It is an honor to be granted the opportunity to join Austin FC and be a part of building a world class club in a world class city. My family and I are eager to start the next chapter of our lives in the beautiful city of Austin,” said Claudio Reyna. “I would like to thank Anthony Precourt and our entire Ownership group for the faith they have placed in me to help establish a tradition of winning alongside the committed and talented team that has started to assemble in Austin.
“I have been impressed by the investments that Ownership has committed towards the fundamental building blocks of a successful major league team. From the positive engagement with the community to the world-class stadium under construction, and the recent announcement related to St. David’s Performance Center, Ownership is laying the foundation needed for long-term success. I am excited to proudly join the ongoing community engagement efforts that Austin FC has implemented well with the passionate followers of our sport in Austin, and there is a large part of me that is looking forward to working directly with Austin’s impressive Hispanic and Latino communities, particularly as my Latino heritage is an important part of my life story.
“I am focused and committed to building a strong soccer operations group within Austin FC that will set high standards from day one so that all who wear the Austin FC crest upon their jersey will do so with integrity and make our supporters proud. Strong working relationships are a fundamental aspect of any successful organization and I look forward beginning the process of adding talented staff to the Austin FC soccer operations department. Our Club has already made an excellent appointment as part of that process with Josh Wolff as Head Coach. Josh is an outstanding talent for whom I have immense respect and with whom I share many great memories from our days playing together for the national team. I am excited to be working so closely with Josh again, as I am with Tyson Wahl within our academy platform as the Austin FC Academy program is another key part of our ability to meet the short and long-term goals set for our Club.”
The Sporting Director search was conducted internally and concludes a thorough process which began in January 2019 and incorporated interviews with a range of domestic and international candidates that included soccer leaders from countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Spain, England, and others. Reyna’s familiarity with MLS player acquisition protocols and youth soccer development platforms, in addition to his known expertise in the identification of soccer talent, were specifically cited by Precourt as determining factors.
“Claudio has a distinguished soccer career on and off the pitch and his appointment represents the seriousness of our ambitions,” Precourt continued. “As Captain of the U.S. Men’s National Team at World Cup level and as a player beloved by supporters in Scotland, England, Germany and in the United States, we are excited to welcome his USMNT soccer legacy to Austin. His previous experience of launching an expansion MLS team, coupled with his strong understanding of the global marketplace, a skill he further developed as an executive with one of the most prestigious global soccer brands, provides an extremely well-balanced leadership background which will be key to our future success. Additionally, his knowledge of the CONCACAF region, as a player and a leader, is a strength he shares with Josh Wolff. Hiring both Claudio and Josh well over a year in advance of our inaugural campaign demonstrates Ownership's commitment to developing and investing in the best possible product on the field. We intend to be a perennial playoff contender, and that starts with year one.”
Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff added his welcome to Reyna, offering, “Our Club has instantly grown even stronger and I am excited to immediately begin the process of working closely with Claudio to build our culture of development and winning in Austin. I am very familiar with Claudio’s soccer pedigree and leadership skills, and his recent experiences will be of great value our overall Club development and my own personal development.”
Reyna was born in New Jersey after his father, who played for Los Andes in Argentina, emigrated to the United States in 1968. Reyna attended the University of Virginia from 1991–1993 and, playing under then team coach Bruce Arena, became an integral component of a dominant collegiate program that would win three (3) consecutive NCAA championships. Reyna’s skills attracted interest from Europe and in 1994 he moved to Germany to play, initially, for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen (1994 – 1997) and then VfL Wolfsburg (1997 – 1999). In April 1999 he moved to the Scottish Premier League to play for Glasgow Rangers (1999 – 2001) and then moved to the English Premier League, first with Sunderland FC (2001 – 2003), and subsequently with Manchester City F.C. (2003 – 2007). In 2007 he returned to the USA and made his MLS debut with New York Red Bulls, reuniting with Bruce Arena who was then the club’s head coach. Reyna retired in July 2008 in New York after a career total of 282 matches and 23 goals.
Reyna has been married to Danielle Egan Reyna since 1997, and the Reyna’s have raised their family in the United States and abroad. Egan, who made six (6) appearances for the U.S. Women’s National Team, is a graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a college teammate of Angela Kelly, University of Texas at Austin’s Women’s Soccer Head Coach. The Reyna’s oldest son, Giovanni Reyna, plays professionally in Germany for Borussia Dortmund U19 and recently featured as Captain of the USMNT U17 World Cup team in Brazil.
Reyna joins Austin FC effective immediately, and a formal press conference to officially introduce Reyna to media and supporters as Austin FC’s Sporting Director will take place in Austin on the afternoon of Tuesday December 3rd (exact time, location and additional details to be announced in due course).