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Jul 15, 2008

Reyna set to retire from MLS

After a 14-year professional career that saw him play in Germany, England and Scotland before returning to the United States, former U.S. national team captain and New York Red Bulls midfielder Claudio Reyna is retiring immediately, sources within MLS confirmed to ESPNsoccernet on Tuesday.

Reyna joined the Red Bulls prior to the 2007 season as its first Designated Player. He played 27 matches over the course of two seasons, including six matches this year. However, nagging leg injuries prevented Reyna from ever having the impact expected of him when he was signed for a two-year, $2.5 million contract by then Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena.

Reyna is scheduled to hold a press conference on Wednesday at St. Benedict's Prep, the New Jersey high school where his storied soccer career began two decades ago.

During his brief time in MLS, Reyna showed glimpses of the ability that made him successful in Europe and with the U.S. national team, but the rigors of playing on artificial turf at Giants Stadium and in the physical MLS at the age of 34 took their toll. He missed matches with a variety of injuries, and after considerable deliberation, Reyna made the final decision to stop playing.

Reyna spent a dozen seasons in Europe, playing for Wolfsburg in Germany, Sunderland and Manchester City in England, and Glasgow Rangers in Scotland. He was regarded as one of the best players ever produced by the United States for his composure and skill in central midfield.

His career peaked at the 2002 World Cup, where he helped lead the United States to the World Cup quarterfinals. His inspired performance earned him All-Tournament honors, making him the first American to ever receive such a distinction.

Reyna's retirement potentially frees up a Designated Player slot that the team is expected to use to sign a forward to replace Jozy Altidore, who was sold to Villarreal last month.

It remains to be seen just how the Red Bulls will be allowed to use the vacated Designated Player slot and salary-cap space. With the DP mechanism only in its second year of existence, MLS is in uncharted territories when it comes to handling a situation like this.

According to sources, the Red Bulls are expected to pay Reyna's entire remaining salary, believed to be slightly more than $600,000, a figure that includes the $200,000 pro-rated amount due Reyna from the league itself. (MLS pays up to $400,000 of a designate player's salary, with the team paying the rest.)

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