NEWARK, N.J. -- Former U.S. national team captain Claudio Reyna retired Wednesday, less than two seasons after returning from Europe to join Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls.
Reyna, who will turn 35 on Sunday, had been bothered by hamstring and back injuries this season that had limited his playing time, and he said that played a role in his decision.
"My mind and body together told me it was time," Reyna said at a news conference at St. Benedict's Academy, the prep school where he was a two-time national player of the year and played on a team that once won 47 consecutive games.
Accompanied by his wife, former U.S. women's national team member Danielle Egan, and their three children, Reyna said he will stay on with the Red Bulls in an advisory role, though he said details were still being worked out.
"I'm very happy with my decision," he said. "Some people hang on and keep looking for another team. I didn't want to be that guy.
"There's not going to be any Bret Favre situation here," Reyna added, referring to the retired Green Bay Packers quarterback desire to return to the NFL.
Reyna was part of a second wave of American players to play professionally in Europe in the 1990s at a time when, as he admitted Wednesday, Americans "were laughed at, to be honest."
He went on to become the first American to captain a European team, for Germany's Wolfsburg in 1998, and eventually earned the nickname "Captain America." The next year he helped Scotland's powerhouse Glasgow Rangers win their 11th league title in 12 years.
He also played for Germany's Bayer Leverkusen and Sunderland and Manchester City in England.
"There were players that went over to Europe before him, but I think what Claudio did was raise the bar for what an American player is and should be," said Jeff Agoos, Reyna's teammate on the U.S. national team and currently the Red Bulls' sporting director.
Reyna captained the U.S. national team during its best World Cup performance, in 2002 when the Americans reached the quarterfinals before losing 1-0 to Germany.
He also was a member of the U.S. squad for the 1994, 1998 and 2006 World Cups before retiring from international soccer after 2006. He scored eight goals in 112 national team appearances and also was a member of the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic teams.
"I'm very proud, not so much of what I did but when I did it, in terms of where the game was," Reyna said. "Being involved in that whole process has been amazing."
Reyna played in and started six of 16 games for the Red Bulls this season. He last played on May 25 in a 5-1 loss to Chicago, and didn't register any goals or assists in 461 minutes.
Reyna signed a multiyear contract with the Red Bulls in January 2007 that reunited him with Bruce Arena, his former coach at the University of Virginia and the U.S. national team.
He was signed as a designated player, meaning the Red Bulls could sign him and exceed the $2 million-per-team salary cap.
Reyna started 21 regular-season games and both playoff contests in 2007, finishing the year with three assists. He did not score a goal in his 29 games in the league.
Under the MLS salary structure, Reyna's retirement will not allow the Red Bulls to sign another designated player this season, Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio said Wednesday. He said Reyna's spot on the roster would most likely be filled by a forward.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press