After making the big move last February from FC Dallas to legendary Serie A team AS Roma, Fort Worth native Bryan Reynolds joined up with KV Kortrijk of the Belgian Pro League last month.
The intention of the half-season loan is to give the once-capped US National Team defender something that had been sorely lacking in Italy – game time.
Reynolds talked Yanks Abroad about the Pro League, comparing it to others where he has played, as well as his goals and aspirations for the rest of the season in Belgium.
“I like it [the Belgian Pro League],” the 20-year-old told Yanks Abroad, adding “It’s really intense.”
“Coming from the Serie A, which is a top-five league, you don’t know what to expect [in Belgium]. The games I’ve watched before I played, I could see that the level is high and that it’s a really good league. And I feel like this is going to help me as well.”
Although the Belgian League is not one that is closely followed by the bulk of American soccer fans, it has nevertheless become a very popular and valuable destination for players from the USA who have gone overseas to make a name for themselves as they pursue a career at the highest level.
Currently eight American players call Belgium home. The league is actually a very competitive one, where just one or two dominant teams do not win the title year after year, as is the case in many of Europe’s elite leagues.
In fact, during the past ten seasons, four different teams have claimed the title, and a newly-promoted side, Union Saint-Gilloise, is looking like the favorite to come out on top this season.
“I think, compared to the MLS, [the Pro League] is a bit higher and more intense,” he posited. Reflecting on where he spent his first year in Europe, he pointed out some areas of difference to his current home.
“And the Serie A is the Serie A; it’s a very big league. I also think that this [league] is more physical than the Serie A, but in the Serie A you have to be a lot smarter and more technical. You have to think faster.”
He added that, “there’s [also] not that much time on the ball, concluding “I do like this league and feel that it’s going to develop me.”
As for Major League Soccer, he sees a large disparity between the top and bottom, also in terms of where they stack up against the standard level in Belgium. “I feel like in the MLS there are some teams that are not the best, though when you play against the good teams then it’s kind of like here.”
With the loan terminating at the end of the season, the defender doesn’t have much time to make a mark and impress his parent club boss, Jose Mourinho.
Although most seasons end in May, the Pro League has a play-off system. Due to administrative and scheduling issues stemming from the ongoing pandemic, this means that teams not making it in the top eight will play their last games the first week of April.
Currently Kortrijk is in 12th place, missing the cut, still fighting for a coveted top-eight finish that will give them a few extra games.
“My goal is to play games, develop and get my confidence back,” he states, adding “then hopefully go back to Rome and start playing for them.”
“But you never know what can happen. If another team wants to come [for me] who knows, but my main focus now is to play games for Kortrijk and [to] help my team as much as possible while I’m here.”