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January 22, 2023

Adapting to Europe can be a slow process, with some players failing to adapt immediately and become instant contributors. Despite his immense potential, Bryan Reynolds has struggled to break into the rotation at AS Roma, a challenge exacerbated by the unexpected hiring of a notoriously mercurial manager. Needing a boost, the 20-year-old defender enjoyed a successful loan spell with KV Kortrijk in Belgium, a brief stint that may have put him back on track.

Reynolds was born in Fort Worth, Texas, playing at the local YMCA and with North Texas Soccer. When he was four years old, his parents made him choose between baseball, basketball, soccer and football, a decision they said was not meant to be set in stone. He joined the famed FC Dallas Academy at age 11, rising through the ranks as a forward while competing in the Dallas Cup and winning the US Development Academy Championship. In November 2016, the club signed the then 15-year-old as their youngest homegrown, despite his recent addition to the USA U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida.

He grew up attending team practices with his dad, Keith, a relatively well-known Dallas-area talent who played at Southern Methodist University. “It’s really exciting to be a 15-year-old signing his first professional contract, but I have to stay humble,” Reynolds said. “I can’t let this go to my head and I have to keep playing the way I have been.”

The first two years of his professional career were spent without any playing time, a patient development process that included training sessions at Bayern Munich. In light of changing tactical styles and the growing popularity of different formations around the world, it was decided to test his abilities as a full-back. In 2019, he made his breakthrough when he split between FC Dallas and North Texas SC, the club’s reserve team in USL League One. Reynolds has made 24 appearances in all competitions, contributing one goal and four assists. With their play at right back, North Texas won the regular season and playoff championships.

For 2020, he was firmly established with the first team, being named the club’s Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. After starting right-back Reggie Cannon left Major League Soccer for Primeira Liga club Boavista, Reynolds spent two games as a substitute before earning a starting role and not giving it up for the rest of its mandate. Much of his success at the back is attributed to the influence of the starting teammate.

“He had a great mentor in Reggie,” said then-FC Dallas manager and current USMNT assistant Luchi Gonzalez. “He’s always been close to him and admires him. That’s why I’m not surprised he was able to step in and compete straight away.

Although a four-year contract extension was signed in October 2020, his remaining time in MLS would be short. The move to Europe has been a months-long saga, with jaw-dropping reports of ever-changing details emanating from both sides of the Atlantic. The tussle between Juventus and Roma won’t stop as the reported fees have increased. There were also rumors of interest from Club Brugge, Marseille, Lyon, Fiorentina, a who’s who of clubs trying to land the much-loved prospect. Eventually the deal was done and Reynolds joined the Giallorossi on a six-month loan before a mandatory purchase. Dallas received “an initial fee” of 6.75 million euros with additional clauses of up to 5.65 million euros.

“I am delighted and honored to join AS Roma,” said Reynolds, whose contract runs until June 2025. improve and develop as a footballer My challenge now is to keep improving day by day.

Reynolds took some time to adjust to his new surroundings, making his debut against Parma and ending the year with five promising appearances, the youngest American to start in Serie A. There was optimism at the approaching next season as he was expected to play a bigger role at the club. Unfortunately, Roma made a hiring decision that sent despair into the hearts of the young players: appointing José Mourinho as coach.

As feared, Reynolds made just three appearances for Roma, including his only start in a widely publicized 6-1 loss to Bodø/Glimt in the Europa Conference League, a group performance which drew criticism from Mourinho. Although he insists the manager is a ‘nice person’ and praises his motivational tactics, it was necessary to seek playing time elsewhere. Interest poured in from across Europe, including Club Brugge, Hull City and Anderlecht.

Reynolds eventually signed for Kortrijk in the Belgian Premier Division A until the end of the season, as the club failed to secure him for the desired 18 months. After barely playing for a year, he enjoyed living in a city with fewer distractions that allowed him to focus on his career, maintaining “confidence” and “the pace of the game”. The defender made nine appearances and scored one goal in the final game of the season, with From Kerels (The Guys) losing eight of the matches in a schedule that ended in early April.

“Obviously the most important thing is to play, and I think playing games is the best way to grow,” Reynolds said. American football now. “And that’s what I do. Even though I’m on loan, I still want to win games. It’s a bit hard for the team… [Belgium] It’s a different league and there’s a different style of play and it takes some getting used to, but I feel like I’ve adapted pretty well.

Now Reynolds returns to Rome, with an uncertain future ahead of him. He hopes to impress Mourinho by showing his ability to ‘actually play’. While his stated belief is admirable, observers are speculating there will be a move to a new club, likely a loan move to aid his development process.

Internationally, Reynolds was identified by US Soccer at an early age, rising through the various national youth teams. He was on the bench for the majority of the 2017 U-17 World Cup, making only a brief appearance in the 4-1 quarter-final loss to England. His senior debut came in a friendly against Northern Ireland, followed by a substitute game against Bosnia and Herzegovina last December. Manager Gregg Berhalter praised his dynamic “attacking characteristics” but stressed the need to “improve in the defensive phase”, believing that Serie A “is like a university for defenders” which will allow him to become “a player complete”.

Although there is a need for development, the national team could benefit from his raw talent in the future. The most obvious aspect of Reynolds is his combination of size and athleticism, allowing for all the inherent defensive advantages in shielding, tackling, interception and aerial duels. Standing 6’3″, his technical ability and good first touch make him a nightmare to stop as both a passer and dribbler. His speed is frequently noted in scouting reports, appearing to “slide” around the pitch with his long strides but capable of short bursts.This quickness is useful in short-range possession and combinations with teammates. Total Football Analysis sees him as a “key builder and builder in the final third”, tasked with pushing forward to “create overloads in large areas” of the field.

Touted as a player with a “massive ceiling”, his potential emergence would fulfill years of promise and potential backed by a friendly club environment in Dallas. Reynolds’ experience as a striker is an asset, allowing for diagonal runs behind opposing back lines. Smarter Scout lists him as having “exceptional ball retention” compared to other full-backs in Serie A. He is also an excellent centerer, with his Dallas teammates describing him as “one of the best”.

“He’s still young,” Luchi Gonzalez said in 2021. “He still understands the game tactically, his defensive positioning and his responsibilities off the ball and ball recovery. But certainly with the ball, I think he’s also good as can be in MLS and he’s still only a 2001. Bryan has shown he’s clearly our starter [in the] second half of the season… It creates that value and that attention or that hype.

Reynolds is still at the start of his career, with just 51 career appearances at club level. Although the transfer to Roma was not an immediate success, he has plenty of time to develop and become a top full-back, in Italy or elsewhere. In a few years, his loan to the Belgian could be considered a crucial decision, a welcome boost in terms of playing time and experience on the road to stardom.

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