If you scanned the crowd at Monday’s Generation adidas Cup qualifier between the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC, you likely would have noticed a couple of U.S. World Cup legends.
They work for different teams now - Earnie Stewart as the Union’s Sporting Director and Claudio Reyna as New York City FC’s Director of Football Operations - but seeing them standing next to each other was, for me at least, the soccer equivalent of watching Stranger Things on Netflix. I was immediately taken back to the 1998 and 2002 World Cups when Reyna and Stewart were patrolling the midfield for the Yanks.
The duo are among an elite group of five U.S. players to play in three World Cups - Stewart played in 1994 when Reyna was on the team but didn’t play because of an injury while Reyna went on to play in the 2006 World Cup after Stewart had retired.
Reyna was on hand Monday for more than just official business. His son Gio is on the NYCFC U16 team and it was his penalty kick and corner leading to a goal that brought City back from a two-goal deficit to tie the Union 2-2 (they would earn another point with a penalty kick win). Stewart has a son of his own, Ennis, who started playing for the Union’s U14 team this season.
That Reyna and Stewart are helping to shape the future as part of their roles with their respective clubs is good news for Major League Soccer and for the U.S. team. With any luck, a player or two competing in the nine games played in Chester over the long holiday weekend will one day follow in their footsteps to international glory.