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Claudio Reyna leaves NYCFC, David Lee takes over as club's new sporting director

Former U.S. national team soccer captain Claudio Reyna

Former U.S. national team soccer captain Claudio Reyna reacts during an interview on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in New York. Credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews

New York City FC increasingly is looking like a much different club than the one that stormed to the top of the Eastern Conference in the 2019 MLS season.

Less than a month after a disappointing playoff exit and just 13 days after Domènec Torrent left his role as head coach, club sporting director Claudio Reyna has left the club as well.

Reyna is departing NYCFC to become sporting director of Austin FC, an MLS expansion club set to begin play in 2021. David Lee, formerly the club's technical director, was named sporting director on Thursday.

"After five seasons as the Sporting Director for New York City FC, I’ve decided to accept the exciting opportunity to once again be part of an expansion club," said Reyna in a news release. "This has been an extremely difficult decision for me and my family. NYCFC is such a special place and being Sporting Director of this great Club has been one of the most enjoyable and proud moments in my career."

In a statement, Lee expressed his excitement with the new role at the club.

"I’ve worked alongside Claudio since the Club’s inception, and am proud of what we’ve built together," said Lee. "Having been in Major League Soccer since 2011, I am eager to continue leading this exceptional squad and Sporting Department. We have the strongest roster of players we’ve ever had and I am extremely confident about the short and long-term future of the first team and Academy.”

The Athletic was first to report the news of Reyna's departure Wednesday. According to the initial report, Reyna and City Football Group, which owns NYCFC, were having trouble making progress on a new contract as Reyna was entering the final year of his deal.

Reyna, a New Jersey native, has been with NYCFC as the sporting director since the day after the club initially was announced in May 2013.

NYCFC roster updates

NYCFC will have four players returning on club options for the 2020 MLS season.

Ronald Matarrita, Sebastien Ibeagha, Luis Barraza and Brad Stuver have all had their options exercised for next year, the club announced Wednesday.

Options were declined for Daniel Bedoya, Jeff Caldwell, Eric Miller, Abdi Mohamed and Ebenezer Ofori.

Keaton Parks also appears on his way out. The midfielder’s loan from Portuguese giant Benfica will end on Dec. 31.

New York Sports