FORT WORTH, Texas — Dallas-Fort Worth is loaded with some of the best soccer players in the United States, and you'll find few to zero of them actually playing in Fort Worth even though this the 13th largest city in the country.

Fort Worth parents and their children are all too familiar with the drives east associated with the sport.

This city has traditionally been loathe to court pro sports because they are a sucker's play, but a town this large should not have to migrate to play high level soccer. Youth soccer in the U.S. is a giant scam and it's also not going anywhere.

There is no reason why Bryan Reynolds' last meaningful soccer games in Fort Worth came when he was in the YMCA and played on the modest fields near Cherry Lane.

Reynolds was born at Harris Hospital, grew up near Horne Street, and used to work at his grandfather's place, Sonny's Food Store, which is no more.

Reynolds, 19, should be Fort Worth's finest example of its youth soccer programs, but instead he's another guy who had to migrate 30 to 50 miles east to find quality competition.

The defender is now with FC Dallas, and the teenager should become the best player ever to come out of Fort Worth. He may already hold that distinction because he's good and because there are not that many alternatives.

Reynolds has a chance to have his contract purchased by a successful team in Europe. Don't be shocked if Reynolds actually makes the U.S. Men's National Team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and then again in 2026 team when the event comes to North America.

His father, Keith Reynolds, grew up in Fort Worth and played at SMU before playing briefly in Europe as a pro. The reason he and his wife and their three kids moved from Fort Worth to Arlington and then eventually to Frisco was because of the drive required for soccer practice.

All of these teams go east in DFW for tournaments because there are no viable options in Fort Worth. By now, in 2020, this should not happen.

Fort Worth councilman Cary Moon is pitching a $150 million project to build a small stadium and adjacent fields with the hopes of attracting some professional team.

I'm not entirely sure we need another pro soccer franchise — we already have the minor league Fort Worth Vaqueros — but fields to accommodate the growing number of organizations that field high-caliber teams should be a yes.

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Bryan Reynolds said he was 4 when his dad gave him a piece of paper that listed four sports: Baseball, basketball, soccer, football.

"He told me to pick one and that was going to be my sport," Reynolds said.

By this point he had already scored eight goals in one of his YMCA games.

"I was going to nudge him to soccer if I could," Keith Reynolds said.

Bryan Reynolds didn't take the request literally. He figures if he had selected another sport at any time, his parents would have supported him.

"I think my sons gravitated toward soccer to make their dad happy," Keith Reynolds said. "I thought it was good because it took me everywhere and all over the world.

"Bryan just really took to it. He was a natural. If at any point he wanted to play another sport, we would have totally supported it, but I would have gone to the bathroom and cried for a couple of days."

Bryan gave basketball a shot, but soccer was simply his thing.

The more Bryan played, the more it became apparent he was not just "good" but exceptional. He could have gone to any major college on an athletic scholarship, but he was good enough to jump that path.

In November 2016, Bryan Reynolds signed a contract with FC Dallas.

He made it to the MLS level in 2019, and had started 14 times in this COVID-shortened season heading into Sunday.

He signed a four-year extension back in September, and he figures to be a part of this team until he receives a call from a higher calling: Europe.

"Europe is eventually where I want to go and play," Reynolds said. "That's been the goal, and if that does happen it's something I want to try to do."

Reynolds could well fall into the growing category of American-born and raised players who sign contracts with MLS franchises, develop here, and then their rights are sold to European teams.

FC Dallas did this back in September when it sold the rights to defender Reggie Cannon to a club in Portugal.

As much as the sport has grown in the United States, and now features a viable professional league, it ain't La Liga, the Premier League or any other major soccer federation in Europe.

For the time being Bryan Reynolds belongs to FC Dallas, and he is likely the best player to ever come out of Fort Worth.

He should not have had to leave to become the player he is today.

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(c)2020 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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