Facebook Twitter

YOUNG MIDFIELDER SET TO START FOR U.S. TEAM

SHARE YOUNG MIDFIELDER SET TO START FOR U.S. TEAM

It looks like the kid is going to start the World Cup opener for the United States.

Claudio Reyna, the youngest player on the U.S. World Cup team, appears likely to start Saturday in the Americans' tournament opener against Switzerland.The 20-year-old midfielder, called the future of U.S. soccer by some, finds himself thrust into the present just five months after his international debut.

"Just because I'm younger, people might think there's more pressure," he said Tuesday. "But I'm not expected to carry the team like other players are expected to do."

Reyna, the college player of the year in 1992 and 1993, hasn't participated in workouts since last Wednesday night, when he pulled his right hamstring. But he said Tuesday he was 85-90 percent and will be ready by the weekend.

"It's no problem," he said. "Mentally, I'm not even thinking about whether I'm ready or not."

U.S. coach Bora Milutinovic wouldn't say whether Reyna will start. But Milutinovic, who almost never discusses players by name with reporters, took the rare step Tuesday of talking about Reyna and other team officials said they believed Reyna would be in the lineup.

"Age is not so important," Milutinovic said. "It is important to believe yourself ready to play. ... Many other players like to be player like Reyna. Don't forget, he has many games with the Olympic team, which isn't this level but a high level. ... But I don't tell you he is going to play."

Reyna, the youngest member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, was a part of the Virginia teams that won the NCAA title in 1991, 1992 and 1993. He scored 21 goals in three seasons.

Reyna gets a day off today when the U.S. team travels from El Toro, Calif., to Pontiac, Mich. The Americans will work out Thursday and Friday before playing the Swiss in the Pontiac Silverdome. Reyna said he intends to resume workouts Thursday.