NEW YORK -- If there were such a thing as an "ideal candidate" for a job, then surely, Claudio Reyna taking over as director of football for New York City FC would fall along those lines.
Let's run down Reyna's qualifications: Former U.S. national team captain? Check. Former Manchester City player and familiar with NYCFC's owners? Check. Former MLS player and familiar with the league? Check. Local kid? Check and check.
"To me, it appealed to me right away because of my relationship with the club, being that it’s New York," Reyna told Goal's Alex Labidou.
"So after I had to hear what they were planning to do it was very clear to me that this was something that was really tailor-made for me. I know the U.S. market, I know how things work here having grown up here, having played for the U.S. on the national team and then of course having played for Manchester City. It just made sense and it was an easy decision."
Reyna left his position as youth technical director at U.S. Soccer for the opportunity to lead the front office of MLS's 20th team, a joint ownership venture between Manchester City and the New York Yankees. Both teams are used to signing big-money stars in leagues without salary caps, but Major League Soccer will present a unique challenge.
"We have to play within the rules – there’s rules here, there’s salary restrictions and all that – so we’re not getting separate rules to play with," Reyna said. "The league is competitive as it shows every year. The difference between the first- and 10th-place team is a very fine line, so we’ll have to do a lot of hard work and make sure the players we do bring to the club are here to succeed and have a hunger to make New York City Football Club a successful club."
With the salary cap hindering massive spending (save for three Designated Player spots), one way NYCFC will look to gain an edge is by streamlining the team's playing style with its parent club, Manchester City. This will allow players on loan to more easily integrate into their new team.
"I’ve had conversations with Txiki [Begiristain] and Patrick [Vieira] about making sure that, as much as possible, yes we’ll share the same playing philosophy, and that will help us in terms of our search for players that fit into that playing style," Reyna said.
One of Reyna's first orders of business on his new job will be finding a coach for NYCFC. The 39-year-old will soon begin drawing up a short list, which he says will be comprised of both domestic and international candidates.
"Ideally, I’d like to see a coach in place by the first few months of next year," Reyna said, noting he wants to work closely with the new coach to identify targets for both international signings and for the expansion draft.
With NYCFC slated to begin play in 2015, the clock is already ticking for Reyna. With the club's wealthy owners and one ideal candidate already on board, optimism is high.
"Without over promising too much, I think we do feel we have an incredible support team behind us to really get us off and running and give us the best possible chance to succeed," Reyna said.
"We will build a winning mentality and a competitive culture within the club from day one, and we will be, every year, trying to compete for an MLS championship. That’s clear."
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