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Claudio Reyna: High School vs. Academy Teams

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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.

Reyna speaks with Positive Coaching Alliance at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention in this video about high school vs. academy teams. Reyna weighs in as parents and athletes decide where, and how much, to play soccer. While he says he was lucky enough to play for a great high school program, this is an exception and many programs aren’t up to those standards. Another argument in favor of the academies is that they focus on international rules and tend to make decisions with player development in mind.

Another issue Reyna discusses is time spent playing games vs. training. High school emphasizes games, while academy teams spend more time training, which Reyna believes is the best and safest way to develop players. Finally, he advises parents and athletes to decide where, and how much, to play based on what’s best in their situation, as each athlete is unique.