Gio Reyna lets feet do talking with Gregg Berhalter return imminent

PARADISE, Nevada — If Gio Reyna is at all disappointed that 2022 World Cup coach Gregg Berhalter is returning to the U.S. men’s national team helm this fall, it sure didn’t show in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Canada that gave the Americans their second straight CONCACAF Nations League title.

Reyna played just 45 minutes of the game; he was subbed out at halftime with what U.S. Soccer said was a calf injury. But in his abbreviated time on the field, the blue chip 20-year-old attacker set up both U.S. goals with seeing-eye assists. The performance, despite being cut short, was good enough to earn Reyna Man of the Match honors.

“When Gio’s at his best,” USMNT captain Christian Pulisic said afterward, “We know what he can do.” 

Reyna started both U.S. matches this month; he was also one of the Americans standout performers in last week’s 3-0 smack down of rival Mexico. After a difficult season during which, coming off nearly a year on the sidelines with hamstring injuries, Reyna was almost exclusively used as a substitute both for German power Borussia Dortmund and the U.S. team at the 2022 World Cup, he clearly relished his time on the field over the two games. As he has all year, he made the minutes count. 

“He’s exceptional when he gets on the ball,” U.S. center back Walker Zimmerman said. “Especially in transition, he can push the tempo and get us into the attack and obviously create good chances for the team. So he did a great job tonight. It’s unfortunate that he picked up the knock.”

The severity of his injury wasn’t immediately known.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to do a full eval,” interim U.S. coach B.J. Callaghan said. “[But] for him to come off the field, you know, it must be something.”

A team spokesman told reporters later that the injury was believed to be just a bruise, which would be a godsend given his history. Reyna “politely declined” to speak to reporters after the match, according to the same official.

In some ways, that’s understandable. Reyna has not been available for comment since it was announced that Berhalter would return to his post for the 2026 World Cup cycle. It’s now no secret that Berhalter nearly sent the player home from last year’s World Cup after Reyna refused to accept a role off the bench. The youngster, who has been deployed on the wing through most of his three-year international career, was behind Pulisic and Tim Weah on Berhalter’s depth chart at Qatar 2022 and let it be known that he wasn’t happy about it.

The matter was handled internally, and Reyna apologized to his teammates. But when Berhalter, without naming names, discussed the incident during what was supposed to be an off-the-record leadership conference just days after the Americans were eliminated by the Netherlands in the round of 16, it set off an ugly chain of events that almost cost the coach his job. While Berhalter was eventually rehired, it’s probably safe to assume that Reyna would’ve preferred a fresh start with a different boss.

On Sunday, Reyna’s feet did the talking. The best possible thing for both the player and the U.S. team would be for him to continue to once Berhalter returns. His teammates are clearly ready to move on.

“For me, there’s no issue with Gio at all,” Pulisic said. “What happened, happened. For me, I have a great relationship with Gio. I enjoy playing alongside him. He’s a great player, and he’s gonna help us moving forward no matter who the coach is.”

If he can prove he’s a 90-minute player, that is. After the World Cup, Reyna started just one of Dortmund’s final 19 league games. He didn’t crack the BVB lineup once over the last 3 ½ months of the season, though he was a consistent game changer off the bench, from which he scored five of his seven Bundesliga goals in 2022-23. 

Should Reyna establish himself as a full-timer in Germany next season, it would give Berhalter a selection headache. Pulisic is an obvious lock when healthy, and Weah isn’t far behind. Meantime, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah have established themselves as the coach’s preferred midfield trio. With Adams recovering from surgery this summer, Reyna started in a central playmaking role this month and excelled.

“When he’s inside,” said Pulisic, “I think he’s dangerous and causes a lot of problems.  And you can see that today.”

And by all accounts, he’s done whatever has been asked of him this camp.

“We’ve challenged Gio to do more work off the ball on the defensive side, and he’s absolutely risen to the occasion,” Callaghan said.

That’s another good sign for someone who, given his age and ability, has a ceiling that seems almost limitless.

“He’s a great player,” Zimmerman said. “We know what he brings to this team.”

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience

Giovanni Reyna

United States

CONCACAF Nations League

Get more from United States Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more

Source link

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles