Claudio Reyna lays out agenda for New York City F.C.

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ, EMPIRE OF SOCCER
(Image, Empire of Soccer)

(Image, Empire of Soccer)

Former U.S. Men’s National Team captain Claudio Reyna has been handed the reins of New York City F.C. as the club’s Director of Football Operations.

That hefty title includes some hefty responsibility and even larger expectations. The New Jersey native and former Manchester City midfielder will be heavily involved in the creation of the side, from player acquisitions to the vetting of the technical staff.

To City CEO Ferran Soriano, there couldn’t be a more capable leader to lead the way.

“Claudio is perfect,” Soriano said. “We were looking for someone who was from New York, who knows the domestic soccer scene, who has played for the US and has also played in Europe to understand our point of view. We found someone who was not only all of this, but also a captain in the United States and has played in Manchester City.

“We are on the same page. He is perfect and we are very happy about it.”

With City’s backing in place, Reyna has been given a lengthy assignment. In short, the onus of responsibility lays in his lap with many areas of the team to address ahead of their 2015 debut.

COACHING STAFF

How far reaching is Reyna’s power within the organization? Manchester City and the New York Yankees have given him the final say in finding a head coach.

Already, Reyna, along with New York City FC’s budding leadership, have outlined a rough draft of what they will be looking for in their first “boss.”

“We need someone who is patient and understands what the league is all about so they will be educated about that when they come here and not taken by any surprise,” Reyna noted. “I think we need a coach that really is patient enough to teach kids. We will have young players, American players that need to be taught as well. It’s important to find the right profile to fit this club.”

The team’s cross-river rivals, the New York Red Bulls, have long shown a preference for foreign based managers. Reyna indicated that would not be the case here.

“I am going to look everywhere,” he said. “We have time. We don’t have a team. We are going to start playing in 2015. I don’t think we will name a coach this year. In fact, we are not, but we will start the search as of tomorrow.

“I’ll be looking and putting candidates down. We will look in the us, we will look abroad, we want to find the right fit.

“It’s the best market that I know,” he continued. “I know the coaches here. I think there are a lot of very good coaches in the league right now but I will keep my options open but absolutely it’s important that without a doubt there will be American candidates I will be talking to.”

PLAYER ACQUISITION

Reyna is no stranger to MLS. As the Red Bulls first ever Designated Player, he experienced limited action on the domestic front but enough to learn the lay of the land. With that knowledge as his basis, he will look to cater the talent in New York City FC in a way to best compete in the league.

“There is going to be a certain level of player that needs to play here because the league is competitive, it’s a physical league,” he noted.

That does not mean the club will stick to hiring bruisers. Reyna expects the team to enjoy a symbiotic relationship with Manchester City, taking advantage of both their scouting resources and their player development.

“There will be clear opportunities and synergy as where we can bring players abroad over from Manchester as well as tap into the vast global scouting network Manchester City has,” he notes. That includes their rich investment into Latin America which has yielded City one of the brightest core Latin talents in the Premiership.”

“We have a stable of scouts in Latin America which are the best in the world,” Soriano adds. “There will be Latin American players that will come here but they won’t be here just to pass through and go to Manchester City or any other reason other than contributing to this team, in this city, to make them champions.”

All of this, Reyna indicates, will happen within the rules of the league.

“They understand it. They are very well educated in it, Ferran and the rest of the leadership,” he said. “We aren’t going to have 20 designated players. We are fully aware of the rules and have to play within the rules MLS have but at the same time, we want to be creative and hopefully attract players that are here for more than just the money.

“New York City itself is an attraction,” he added. “I think we will be able to get a lot of good player that want to come here but I think it’s key that’s the players that come here are hungry motivated and want to succeed and make this club successful.”

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

Leaving a post as U.S. Director of Youth Development, Manchester City will look to expand on Reyna’s knowledge in this area to fulfill a role within the organization. NYCFC hopes to create grassroot initiatives with the New York soccer youth community in an attempt to establish their own academy system.

That system will allow both the cultivation of talent for the local team as well as afford Manchester City an eye on local talent.

“Hopefully we get to keep (youth players) as long as possible,” Reyna noted. “Although we have the support, we need to have a team that is competitive in MLS.”

STADIUM SEARCH

While not a key participant, Reyna will be kept in the loop and consulted with as City searches for both a temporary and permanent home.

“I will be in the meetings,” Reyna said, “(But) that’s more for the leadership and executive team in terms of what makes sense. They have a lot of people behind the scenes; an infrastructure team with everything Manchester City, related including this team here.

“Yes I have been and will be part of those discussions as well as finding a first team facility, where we will build our Academy. All the infrastructure decisions I will be a part of.”

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While the buzz surrounding New York City FC continues to grow, Reyna will be meeting with leadership across the country to lay the foundation for his new club. He is scheduled to leave to St. Louis Thursday to meet with Manchester City Sporting Director Txiki Begiristain. There, they will continue the conversation on the team’s growth before flying back to New York for this Saturday’s Manchester City / Chelsea FC clash at Yankee Stadium.

Just days into his job, Reyna is being kept quite busy – and it doesn’t look like things will slow down for some time.