The #PlayTheKids movement has been a hallmark feature of FC Dallas. With former FC Dallas Academy coach and director Luchi Gonzalez now at the reigns of the team, Coach Gonzalez knows a thing or two about playing “kids.”
The likes of Paxton Pomykal and Edwin Cerrillo have made a large impact in the quality of the roster. Players like Brandon Servania and Thomas Roberts have seen play time with North Texas SC and FC Dallas respectively. One of the newest editions homegrowns to have stepped on the pitch for FC Dallas is Bryan Reynolds.
Bryan Reynolds made his debut against LAFC at home on May 19, 2019. His debut was a long time coming after signing his contract back on November 22, 2016.
“To be honest, I didn’t know if I was going to go on or not.” Reynolds said. “The first trip I made this season was against LAFC and I didn’t go in thinking that I was going to go in versus here at home. I was just warming up on the sideline and Vander was listening to the mic and he tells [me], ‘Reynolds, go over there.’ To be fair, I wasn’t that nervous. I normally get super nervous for game but for some reason I wasn’t that nervous.”
Bryan Reynolds got a big smile on his face and chuckled, saying, “The first thing after I walk onto the field and I run into [Mark-Anthony] Kaye and I was like, ‘let’s see how this goes.’ I played pretty good and it gave me a good confidence boost.”
Behind his debut was a series of different moments that lead to this special moment for Reynolds. Firstly, a player has to sign a contract, which is the mark of making it as a professional.
“Oh, back in 2016, when I was 15 years old, I was at the national team camp.” Reynolds said. “I remember it was after dinner with the national team and I went back to my room and my mom called me and she was like, ‘I have some big news.’ At that time, I wasn’t thinking it was going to be a pro contract or anything. I was like, ‘yeah, what’s up?’ She was stuttering a little bit and I was like, ‘just tell me.’ She said, “FC Dallas offered you a pro contract.’ I went straight into shock and I started to get teary eyed. I couldn’t believe it. When I got home, we negotiated a little bit and I finally signed. It was probably the best moment of my life so far other than making my debut as well.”
As with all homegrowns, Bryan Reynolds began his FC Dallas journey in the famed FC Dallas Academy. It was in the academy where he first met Luchi Gonzalez and was a key attacking piece in the championship side.
Luchi Gonzalez is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to coaching young players. This is especially the case when it comes to Reynolds. When asked about his young player, Luchi Gonzalez he put on a smile as he looked off in the distance as he was clearly remembering his and Bryan’s days in the Academy.
“So, I’ve known Bryan since his earlier years and he was always a winger, forward and I had him with the 99 team as a 01 playing two years up.” Gonzalez said. “It’s a team that went all the way and won the national championship and Bryan was important in that group. Athletically and physically he has always been pretty well ahead… He has technique, he has a growing soccer brain, he’s a good human being and he’s working hard and honestly and those are the most important characteristics that off course along with speed and power, those things can make him more complete, more valuable in the eyes of a market, but he’s just taking his steps.”
In sports, players have a special coach that has been key to a career. It easy to see that playing under a coach that helped you grow into a professional would hold a special place in you mind. That’s the feeling that Reynolds had saying, “It’s honestly pretty cool getting to play when I was in the 16’s he was my coach and then finding out that he was going to be the head coach for the first team. It couldn’t be any better to be honest.”
Luchi Gonzalez felt the same way but he emphasized the importance of continued improvement stressing, “You know, yeah its positive, of course, [but] there’s no time to overthink it and no time to relax. The soccer career is a volatile one. It’s important that I make sure that my demeanor with all the players no matter who they are is to keep working and keep getting better each day because we can’t relax. We relax when we are really old, and we can look back when the pressures aren’t there anymore.”
Bryan Reynolds spent the first year as a professional at the US Youth National Team residency camp. In his second year, Oscar Pareja saw the talent that Reynolds had and began his transformation from winger into a right back.
Luchi Gonzalez, with a slight nodding of the head, was reflective saying, “I think he’s a player that really embraced being converted from a wing to an outside back knowing that he has a responsibility to attack but that he really needs to sharpen up his defensive duels and his defensive responsibilities. To protect his zone and protect in behind and protect and mark in the box. He has taken that personally and he’s working hard to improve those things and that’s why he’s earned those opportunities.”
Bryan Reynolds doesn’t mind the change of position at all as he shared, “I enjoy it to be honest. Sometimes you get to attack and sometimes you have to be responsible and defend. I think at the same time when playing winger and right-back it’s going to help you with both positions. Sometimes you have to dribble out of the back and sometimes as winger you have to defend as well. I think it’s going to help me in the long run.”
It was two days short of two and a half years since signing his professional deal before Bryan Reynolds saw the pitch for the first time as a professional against LAFC.
It’s been a special journey for Bryan Reynolds as his career is only getting started. At 17 years old (at the time of writing) and with his 18th birthday coming up on June 28, Reynolds is in a spot that many kids around the world dream of having: getting to play professional soccer.
Reynolds has felt the love and support of his family saying, “My motivation is to take care of my family pretty much. I have to work hard every single day because I have to take care of my family and I don’t know what I would be if I wasn’t that person that helps them out whenever they need it. Also, my dad because he played pro. Unfortunately, he got injured at a very young age when he was a pro, so I just want to keep that legacy going.”
Luchi Gonzalez has always stress the importance of growing as an individual to his players, staff, and himself. The same goes for Bryan Reynolds.
“A growth mindset is learning and [do] not think that we’ve made it in any way.” Gonzalez said. “That is not just for Bryan it’s for all the players at any age and all of my staff and myself included in this club. Let’s act like we want it and not like we got it.”
Featured Image: FC Dallas