A matter of respect for ReynaPosted: Friday June 21, 2002 3:09 PM
By Paul Kennedy, Soccer America
ULSAN, South Korea -- The last two U.S. games were two of the best of captain Claudio Reyna's international career. He played on the right side of midfield against Mexico and as the attacking midfielder against Germany.
He set up the first American goal against Mexico and defended vigorously. He was all over the field against Germany. Even when he tired in the last 15 minutes, he came back to break up a German breakaway.
He says the plan was to take the game to Germany.
"[Christoph] Metzelder and [Sebastian] Kehl are young players," Reyna said of the two German defenders. "We pressured them and had some good chances. We played well. We probably went out better than England did. We left everything on the field."
Reyna was one of five American starters who play or played in Germany.
"They respect us a lot more than four years ago," said Reyna, who got his start at Bayer Leverkusen, where Germany coach Rudi Voeller was sports director. "I'm not ashamed to say that we were the better team. But the better team doesn't always win. And I can accept that."
Reyna said he was most proud of the play of his teammates.
"Being the captain," he said, "I was proud of John O'Brien, Landon Donovan, Gregg Berhalter and Eddie Lewis. Some don't even play [for their clubs] in Europe. They played some of the best players on the world stage."
Reyna hopes they get a chance elsewhere.
"Some teams are biased against American players," he said. "We proved in this World Cup we can play. Hopefully, they will get a chance to move on to another club and play."
Paul Kennedy is managing editor at Soccer America magazine.