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Claudio Reyna: Balancing The Drive To Win With Needs to Develop Players

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Claudio Reyna (@ClaudioReyna) is a PCA National Advisory Board Member and Soccer Hall of Famer. Reyna is the Former Captain of the US Men's National Soccer Team and one of the greatest soccer players the US has ever produced. The University of Virginia teams he played on won the national championship in each of his three years. His World Cup career for the U.S. covered 1994 through 2006, and in 2002 he was the first American player ever chosen for a FIFA All World Cup team. Reyna represented the US in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also played professionally in Europe for 12 years. Reyna served as Director of Football Operations for MLS’s New York City FC from 2013-2019, and took over as Sporting Director for Austin FC in 2019.

In this video, Reyna speaks with Positive Coaching Alliance at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention about how to reconcile the drive to win with the need to help players develop. He shares his experience playing on a very talented team that won a lot of games, but didn’t always play well. His coaches taught him that playing your best and learning the game is more important than winning. Youth soccer coaches should focus on development and teaching the right fundamentals, not just on the win.

He also emphasizes the importance of winning and losing the right way. Coaches can teach kids that losing is OK, and even rewarding, if they are playing their best, whereas winning after playing badly shouldn’t be satisfying. Reyna says that if coaches could manage the message that the goal is to play well and win, then the sport of soccer would benefit.