New York City FC have their first employee.
The Major League Soccer expansion club named former US national team star Claudio Reyna as its director of football operations on Wednesday, one day after it was unveiled as the league’s 20th club, set to debut in 2015. The club will be co-owned by English Premier League power Manchester City and the New York Yankees.
Reyna, 39, has strong ties to both MLS and Manchester City, and is one of the most decorated figures in American soccer history. He spent four seasons playing for Manchester City from 2003-07 before returning to MLS, where he joined the New York Red Bulls as the franchise’s first Designated Player. He appeared in 29 matches for the club before injuries forced him to retire midway through the 2008 season.
He also boasts 111 caps with the US national team and was selected for four World Cups. He has served as the youth technical director for U.S. Soccer since 2010.
“Having had the privilege of playing both for my country here in the US and for Manchester City FC in England, I could not have hoped for a more tailored-made opportunity in soccer,” Reyna said in a statement. “I am incredibly excited to again wear City’s ‘Sky Blue’ as part of the expansion of the MLS and the growth of soccer in the United States, and am honored to have been offered this opportunity.
“With a large fan base through the New York area, prime television rights and distribution, sponsorship commitments, and the Yankees as a US partner, the New York City Football Club has everything in place to succeed.”
Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano cited Reyna’s recent work with the USSF as a key component to bring on the New Jersey native, who will be tasked with building the soccer elements of the New York City FC organization, including the recruitment of players, coaches and trainers, and other support staff in preparation for the team’s inaugural MLS season in 2015.
“Finding the right person for this role and getting him in place from the start was a priority,” Soriano said in a statement. “The football culture of New York City FC will be built from this decision, and we believe Claudio is the man who uniquely understands what New York soccer should mean, and how it can benefit from the relationship with Manchester City FC.”