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World Cup 2010

Captain America

Soccer star Claudio Reyna begins a journey on a different playing field.

"Claudio's very down to earth," she says. "He's very involved and takes the time to play with the kids.  He speaks to them as if they were all superstars."

In April, Reyna added another role to his soccer roster. The U.S. Soccer Federation revealed he would be its youth technical director, overseeing the development of youth players and coaches nationwide. Thanks to his playing experiences at home and abroad, "I've just been able to get a real experience that has allowed me to view where our game is and assess it throughout the country," Reyna said at the press conference announcing his appointment. "I will be essentially trying to put together a plan and a structure to help better the soccer environment in our country."

With the World Cup looming, Reyna's looking forward to the action in South Africa. He may fly to there to catch some games, but says it's more likely he'll watch the games on television with family and friends. He rates Brazil and Spain as the teams to beat, though he believes his beloved Argentina has a good chance, too.

He still recalls being a five-year-old witnessing his relatives weeping with joy when Argentina won the World Cup in 1978. "Argentina and the U.S. are the two teams that I always pull for," he says. "Unless they're playing each other, I root for both."

The U.S. has injuries to several key players, so the team's fortunes are "up in the air," Reyna says. Still, the team has drawn relatively easy first-round group competition: England will be tough to beat, but the United States should get past Algeria and Slovenia. "Fans have to understand that getting out of the group will be a great achievement and," he adds optimistically, "after that, we'll see."

Looking ahead, Reyna envisions himself coaching higher-level athletes—perhaps even one day leading a U.S. team to a World Cup. He's in no rush, though. "At some point," he says. "I'll get my opportunity."

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