Monday, April 02, 2007

Reyna and I agree.

ESPNsoccernet interviewed Red Bull New York Captain Claudio Reyna about the upcoming MLS season. Reyna was also asked about the USMNT and how the two summer tournaments might affect the player pool and how he fits into the whole USMNT outlook. This question was one that stood out for me the most:

ESPNsoccernet: This summer the U.S. might send a second-tier team to Copa America. Would you support having starters play in that competition over a group of untested players?

CR: The rationale behind that is simple. Guys have commitments with their MLS teams. It's not easy and people do not realize how tough it is for Bob [Bradley], and Bruce [Arena] went through something similar. They have to make the teams happy, whether or not it's in MLS or in Europe. The coaches and management do not want their players reporting to preseason camps all worn out. It's a good thing having the guys with lesser experience play at Copa America, because they will get better games. Anyone who stands out during the competition can obviously help the team. We can also go after the Gold Cup sending a message to teams in our region. The Gold Cup is much more important because those are the teams we will qualify against. Copa is obviously a great experience and it's a win-win situation, because at the end of both competitions, the U.S. will have discovered new talent for the future. -

I agree with Claudio in that for the future of the USMNT, getting the younger, less experienced guys into the matches in the Copa America will provide a better experience than sending them to the Gold Cup. Getting some of the younger guys who’s only USMNT experience is playing against Guatemala at Pizza Hut Park in Texas will be a huge eye opener. Once guys like DeMerit or Feilhaber or Cooper or Mapp step on the field in Venezuela to face Argentina, they will enter an entirely different world, one that is even different from the Bundesliga or the EPL. Getting these guys that taste now, will help them face the crowds in Panama or Mexico City come World Cup qualifying time.

I also like how Claudio feels that we need to send a message to the rest of the teams in our region by going after the Gold Cup. As we will be facing the same sides in the Gold Cup that we will be qualifying against for South Africa, putting in a solid, commanding performance and result in the Gold Cup will set the tempo for the Qualifying that starts in 2008. Add to that the result of the Guatemala match and we need to show that teams can’t keep us from the 3points by bunkering and playing chicken shit soccer.

I am excited to see Reyna in MLS. Yes he plays for the club that I hate the most, but I am excited to see him play. I hope he does well, but I wouldn’t shed one tear if the Red Bulls fail again this season.

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