Jan. 24, 2007
'I FEEL GOOD'
Reyna chalks up injuries to shoddy physios
By Dylan Butler
|Claudo Reyna: "Personally I feel good. All the fitness tests I’ve did at Man City, I was always amongst the top.”
Linda Cuttone/SportsVue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Associate Editor
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There’s no question Claudio Reyna immediately became one of the top midfielders in Major League Soccer when he signed to play with the Red Bulls Wednesday afternoon and became the league’s second Designated Player following David Beckham.
The Springfield, N.J. native is a calming influence in the middle of the park who is equally comfortable sitting back or attacking and an instant leader on and off the field. He has 12 years of European club experience – from Bayern Leverkusen to Manchester City – and has captained the U.S. National Team in back-to-back World Cups.
But that’s not what concerns some Red Bulls fans. It’s not his brilliance on the field and influence in the locker room that is in question, it’s how often he will be on the field. They hope he’s not the second coming of Tab Ramos, another midfield maestro out of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark who starred for the U.S. and the MetroStars in seven injury-plagued seasons, wearing the same No. 10 shirt.
Fighting the “injury-prone” label is nothing new for Reyna. Sure, he’s had his share of injuries, needing surgery to repair a torn ACL with Sunderland and a broken ankle he played six games on with Man City. He was also sidelined for weeks at a time at different points of his career with calf, groin and shoulder problems.
“I’ve had [injuries], there’s no denying it, but what people never knew -- I don’t like to really talk about it -- but some of them have been big, big mistakes by physios in England,” Reyna said. “Playing six games with a broken ankle when no one knew it didn’t help, playing with a torn muscle that a doctor in Germany said was the biggest he’s seen in 20 years. These are the things that never came out and I never told anyone because at the end, you’re injured or you’re fit.”
Reyna played his last game with Man City Dec. 17 in a 2-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur. He said he’s been healthy enough to play, but the club held him off the field because of the pending Red Bulls deal.
With preseason two weeks away, Reyna said he feels great now mentally and physically and is excited to work with new Red Bulls fitness coach Pierre Barrieu, formerly of the U.S. National team.
“Personally I feel good. All the fitness tests I’ve did at Man City, I was always amongst the top,” he said. “Pierre is the best I’ve ever worked with, so I feel confident on that side of it that I’ll be fine.”
Both Reyna and Arena also say they’re not concerned about the pounding Reyna’s 33-year-old knees will take on the Giants Stadium FieldTurf.
“I think there’s no excuses for bad passes on turf, I have to get used to it,” Reyna said. “With how good they are nowadays, it’s not going to be a problem. I’m looking forward to it and we all know that next year we’ll be playing on grass which will be better.”
“The turf isn’t a problem. In fact, I think it’s an advantage for him on this surface because he’s technically so good,” Arena added. “We brought in one of the best fitness coaches in the country here to work with our players, as well as a new trainer. We’re very comfortable Claudio and other players will be in much better shape than in the past.”
Dylan Butler welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at BigAppleWriter@aol.com