Claudio Reyna out as Austin FC sporting director amid USMNT scandal
Claudio Reyna, the former U.S. men's national team captain who is at the center of a scandal involving his wife, his son Gio and USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, is out as sporting director of Austin FC.
The MLS club announced Thursday that Reyna was "stepping down" and "transitioning" into a "technical advisor role."
In a lengthy news release, Austin FC did not mention the scandal, and framed the move as an amicable scaling back of duties, but the announcement comes just weeks after Reyna, once a celebrated figure in American soccer, admitted to sending messages to U.S. Soccer officials during the World Cup to "share" his "frustrations" about Gio's "World Cup experience." Gio, 20, played just eight group-stage minutes.
ESPN reported that, in his communication with U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart and USMNT GM Brian McBride, Claudio had threatened to reveal damaging information from Berhalter's past.
Claudio denied doing that, but a week after the USMNT was eliminated from the World Cup, his wife Danielle admittedly revealed to Stewart that Berhalter had kicked his now-wife in the early 1990s — a revelation that instigated a formal investigation and the explosion of this feud into the public eye.
Claudio's communication with Stewart and McBride — his former USMNT teammates — is one of several subjects of an ongoing U.S. Soccer-commissioned investigation.
Just hours before Austin FC's announcement, U.S. Soccer announced that Stewart was leaving his job to take an equivalent role at Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
Ever since issuing a brief statement with his partial admission on Jan. 4, Claudio had been absent from Austin FC communications about roster moves. With his ouster now official, Austin said that head coach Josh Wolff — a former USMNT assistant under Berhalter — would lead the club's sporting department; and Sean Rubio, the director of player personnel, would be elevated to interim sporting director.
Those roles had been Reyna's since late 2019, before the expansion team had even played an MLS game.
Reyna had moved into management shortly after retiring as a player in 2008. He worked for U.S. Soccer as a technical director largely focused on the youth game. Then, in 2013, he was hired by New York City FC to launch and lead the club's nascent soccer operations department, ahead of its inaugural MLS season in 2015.
Shortly thereafter, Gio joined and rose through the NYCFC academy. Shortly after Gio left for Borussia Dortmund at age 16 in 2019, Claudio left NYCFC to take the Austin job, and take on a second expansion project.
He had an undoubtedly successful first few years. The team struggled in its first season, 2021, but finished second in the Western Conference and reached the conference finals in 2022. There were no indications that Austin needed or was considering a reshuffle.
The club did not comment on Claudio's status as the scandal unfolded earlier this month. In addition to Claudio's communication with Stewart and McBride, Fox Sports reported that he tried to influence then-U.S. Under-17 coach Raphaël Wicky’s handling of Gio at the 2019 U-17 World Cup.
In Thursday's release, Austin did not explain what Claudio's new role as a "technical advisor" will entail. Club owner Anthony Precourt thanked him for his "contributions," and said that Claudio "will remain in a position to contribute to our organization.” It's unclear if he is still fully employed.
Reyna said in the release that he was "grateful that Anthony and the organization have given me the opportunity to scale back my role and responsibilities while continuing to contribute to the success of a club that I love."