Former U.S. National Team Captain Highlights Final Game of Season
The Ironmen will close out the season by honoring the former U.S. National Team captain
Newark, N.J. (Wednesday, March 25, 2009) – When the New Jersey Ironmen (8-8) host the Detroit Ignition (10-7) at their season finale on Sunday, April 5th, former U.S. National Team captain Claudio Reyna will be part of the opening ceremonies as the Ironmen honorary captain. After the New Jersey native puts the opening kick into motion, the Ironmen will kick off the final game of their sophomore campaign at 4:00 p.m.
“Claudio is arguably one of the greatest players to ever wear the jersey of the United States National Team,” Ironmen Head Coach Omid Namazi commented. “For him to be here and honor us with his presence will make the night very special, and it should give us an added boost prior to the game.”
Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Claudio Reyna led St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark to a 65-0 record in three high school seasons. He was twice named the Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year, as well as receiving Gatorade National Player of the Year accolades. He quickly became one of the most sought after recruits in the nation before deciding to attend the University of Virginia. Playing under future U.S. National Team head coach Bruce Arena, he and the Cavaliers won three straight NCAA championships. Reyna also received many personal accolades, winning the Hermann Trophy in 1993 and twice being named the recipient of the MAC Award (1992, 1993). He was also selected the Soccer America Player of the Year in back-to-back years (1992, 1993), and Soccer America also named him the Male Player of the Century.
On August 8, 1994, Reyna signed an international contract with German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen. He remained with the club before being loaned to VfL Wolfsburg in 1997. He quickly made an impression upon the Bundesliga side, becoming the first American player to captain a major European squad. Midway through his second season with Wolfsburg, Scottish Premier League club Rangers F.C. began to actively pursue the American midfielder. By April of 1999, a deal was worked that landed Reyna with Rangers F.C., and he stayed with the team for nearly three years. In the latter months of 2001, he transferred to Premiership side Sunderland before making the move to Manchester City in 2003. Reyna remained with the English Premier League club until 2007 when he decided to return to the United States so he could suit up for the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. He spent two seasons with the Red Bulls before announcing his retirement from professional soccer on July 16, 2008.
Reyna earned his first cap with the U.S. National Team against Norway on January 15, 1994. While injuries prevented him from getting onto the field, he was a member of the American side at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He did play for the United States in the following three World Cups (1998, 2002, 2006) and became the first American player to ever be named a starter on the World Cup All-Tournament Team in 2002. He also participated in both the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics as a member of the U.S. National Team.
Since retiring from professional soccer, Reyna dedicates most of his time to his non-profit organization, the Claudio Reyna Foundation. His foundation was created to motivate underprivileged youth around the world through mentoring and positive reinforcement learned through the game of soccer. For more information on his foundation, visit www.claudioreynafoundation.org.
The Ironmen return to Prudential Center this Friday with the opportunity to come within a ½ game of the first-place Ignition. Slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, New Jersey must win this contest to keep themselves in contention for the XSL title. Serving as honorary captain for the match-up will be five-time MLS Cup champion Jeff Agoos, and tickets are available now by calling 1-800-IRONMEN.