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Claudio Reyna On When To Specialize And Pursue More Competitive Soccer

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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 clip, Reyna talks about the right age to specialize and when to take a child’s soccer playing to a more serious level. This is a tricky question, with no single right answer that will work for everyone. He suggests that athletes participate in training sessions and watch a team play before committing. Parents, too, play an active role in assessing the choices of environment that will most benefit their youth soccer players. Parents should be honest about the abilities of their children and help them find a team that will lend to success, confidence and overall development.

For parents wondering what age is right for their children to start joining more serious teams, Reyna suggests no younger than age 10. Typically, that’s when kids either continue to play with the town team or join a travel league. Reyna warns parents against making that decision too early, which may lead to a bad experience and desire to quit the sport.