A chance at salvation has arrived for Bryan Reynolds in the form of a loan to Belgium’s Kortrijk.
The young U.S. men’s national team right back, who has been out of José Mourinho’s favor at Roma, has secured a move for the rest of the season that should offer a greater chance at the playing time that has been so hard to come by in Italy. The aim for Reynolds, 20, is for the loan to rocket him back onto the U.S. men’s national team radar for the end of World Cup qualifying and, as long as qualifying goes as planned, next fall’s competition in Qatar.
It appeared that Reynolds was lined up to go to Anderlecht, where he would have played under former Belgium and Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany (Anderlecht was a loan destination for another U.S. defender last season, with Matt Miazga spending the season away from Chelsea there. Previously, U.S. internationals Sacha Kljestan and Kenny Saief plied their trade in Brussels). But instead, the 20-year-old FC Dallas product heads elsewhere in the Belgian top flight, looking to rediscover the form that convinced Roma to spend over $8 million to sign him last year. Kortrijk has not traditionally been a home for U.S. players, though D.C. United defender Brendan Hines-Ike spent nearly three seasons there before coming to MLS last year. Erik Palmer-Brown also spent the second half of the 2017-18 season there on loan from Man City.
Reynolds, who has played just one Serie A minute this season, was released to join the U.S. national team ahead of its friendly vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina last month despite the camp and match taking place outside of the FIFA international calendar. Reynolds came off the bench to play 28 minutes, and coach Gregg Berhalter was quite direct in his assessment of the player.
“You can surely see the rust today, and that’s something that he can’t help that,” Berhalter said following the Dec. 18 match. “He’s doing his best in training and he’s doing his best to get on the field and it’s been difficult for him. You can see he lacks rhythm. He’s a player that we believe in as a staff. We think he’s a top talent and he has really high potential. But he needs to be playing regularly. He needs to get rhythm if he’s going to help us in qualifying.”
Before he can get on the field in qualifying, Reynolds must first get on the field at his new club—the concurrent arrival of Nayel Mehssatou, another young right back, from Anderlecht could complicate matters—which is in a midtable logjam. Kortrijk currently sits eighth in the 18-team division, but just three points behind fifth-place Gent, with a game in hand. Reynolds joins other U.S. fullbacks in the league, with left back Sam Vines at Antwerp and right back Kyle Duncan at Oostende. Another U.S. defender, center back Mark McKenzie, is at Genk.
Reynolds is yet another U.S. international to make a winter move. Ricardo Pepi left FC Dallas for Augsburg in the Bundesliga for a reported $20 million fee, while Daryl Dike completed a permanent transfer to West Brom in England’s second tier from Orlando City on a reported $9.5 million deal. Three young prospects left MLS on 18-month loans, with James Sands, 21, signing with Scottish champion Rangers after winning MLS Cup with NYCFC; Cole Bassett, 20, joining Feyenoord in the Netherlands after a couple of breakout seasons with the Colorado Rapids; and Justin Che, 18, leaving FC Dallas for Hoffenheim.
Another major move could be in the works as well, with Arsenal reportedly making a play to sign U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner from the New England Revolution.
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