Austin FC, the city’s first professional, major-league sports franchise, continues to stock up with former U.S. Men’s National Team players. The soccer club announced Nov. 21 that former USMNT captain Claudio Reyna will join Austin FC as its sporting director, effective immediately.
Anthony Precourt, majority owner and CEO of Two Oak Ventures and Austin FC, said in July the soccer club would fill the sporting director position by the end of the year. According to a Nov. 21 news release, Austin FC began its sporting director search in January 2019 and held interviews with candidates and soccer leaders from England, Spain, Mexico and Argentina.
Almost four months to the day after Austin FC announced Josh Wolff as its head coach, the club ended its sporting director search with Reyna, who played alongside Wolff on the USMNT.
“[Reyna] understands Major League Soccer like no other,” Precourt said during a Nov. 21 conference call. “He’s got an exceptional eye for talent and a keen understanding of how to build a soccer academy.”
Reyna enjoyed an international soccer career playing for six separate professional clubs across Europe and the U.S. over the course of fourteen seasons. The former midfielder represented the U.S. internationally at four FIFA World Cup competitions and served as captain for the USMNT.
Austin FC is Reyna’s second stop in the MLS. Reyna joins the Austin side after getting hired by then-MLS expansion team New York City FC as its sporting director in 2013. Under Reyna’s tenure, NYCFC has made the playoffs every year since 2016, only failing to qualify for the postseason in the team’s inaugural 2015 season.
Reyna will step in as Austin FC’s chief soccer operations officer and will begin the process of building the soccer club’s roster and staff, according to the MLS team’s news release. Precourt has previously said the club may sign a player to its roster as soon as next summer, a sentiment that Reyna echoed during the Nov. 21 conference call.
“There is no doubt the team will be full of exciting players from all over the world,” Reyna said.
As Austin FC’s new sporting director, Reyna will also take the reins on establishing the club’s academy system, which develops youth players to eventually play for Austin FC’s senior team. Reyna, who has experience building up NYCFC’s youth academy system, said the club will work to develop soccer players from Austin and its surrounding communities.
Construction on Austin FC’s stadium in North Austin began in September and is currently underway. Most recently, the MLS team announced plans to construct a $45 million training facility for senior club and academy players in Northeast Austin, just east of Tech Ridge. Austin FC is on schedule to kick off its inaugural season in 2021.
Reyna will be formally introduced to fans at a Dec. 3 press conference, according to Austin FC's news release.