United States midfielder Giovanni Reyna, son of former U.S. national team member Claudio Reyna, has been given a reprieve to stay with the team ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022.
Questions were raised recently when Gregg Berhalter, U.S. men’s soccer coach, suggested sending Reyna home due to his performance during training sessions, sources told ESPN on Sunday.
The United States’ final encounter in Qatar ended in a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16. Reyna, only 20 years old, did not start any games but played the whole second half. According to the same sources, Reyna also expressed regret to the team for his lack of effort.
As the world gears up for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, the U.S. midfielder almost sent back home from the tournament has revealed a surprising disclosure about their manager Gregg Berhalter.
On Tuesday, U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter spoke at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit and made comments later published in a newsletter by Charterwork, revealing important details about the U.S. “had a player that was clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field. One of 26 players, so it stood out. As a staff, we sat together for hours deliberating what we would do with this player. We were ready to book a plane ticket home, that’s how extreme it was.”
This news shocked team fans and generated much curiosity among the general public.
Berhalter said: “What it came down to was, we’re going to have one more conversation with him, and part of the conversation was how we’re going to behave from here out. There aren’t going to be any more infractions. But the other thing we said to him was, you’re apologizing. It’s going to have to go deeper than just ‘Guys, I’m sorry.’ And I prepped the leadership group with this. I said, ‘OK, this guy’s going to apologize to you as a group, to the whole team.'”
It’s not surprising that MLSSoccer.com was the first to recognize that the player being mentioned was none other than the young American sensation Giovanni Reyna when word of a significant player acquisition initially surfaced. The Athletic followed up with news that Reyna was nearly sent home due to a lack of performance in training.
ESPN contacted Berhalter via text message, and he issued the following statement:
“It’s not really important who it was. The important thing is that the group had very clear standards and they were prepared to communicate if the standards weren’t being met. Sometimes that communication leads to positive change and a clear pathway forward.”
Later, Berhalter clarified that the presentation was meant to be confidential.
The amount of time that Reyna spent in the tournament was heavily debated. In the 1-1 tie with Wales, Berhalter deployed only one more replacement, Jordan Morris, but he did not see any action.
After the game, Berhalter commented on how he thought Morris’ “speed and power” could help the club, and he mentioned how Reyna had “a little bit of tightness” following the match against Al Gharafa Thursday.
Reyna informed the reporters after the Wales game that he was “100 percent,” despite dealing with hamstring and other issues intermittently over the previous 14 months.
“I feel really good. I feel great, Reyna said. “I feel fine. [Berhalter] doesn’t have to tell me why he didn’t put me in or why he does.
Very quickly after, Reyna was called out by his coaches and teammates.
“What was fantastic in this whole thing is that after he apologized, they stood up one by one and said, ‘Listen, it hasn’t been good enough, you haven’t been meeting our expectations of a teammate and we want to see change,'” Berhalter said during his speech. “They really took ownership of that process. And from that day on there were no issues with this player.”
Before the England game, former U.S. Soccer legend Eric Wynalda said there was “internal strife” in a Twitter Spaces conversation with the Los Angeles Times. This raised the stakes surrounding Reyna’s playing time.
Later, he claimed that Berhalter had instructed Reyna to lie to the media and had lied on his Sirius XM radio show.
U.S. Soccer legend Eric Wynalda made waves when he criticized Gregg Berhalter’s starting lineup choice for the U.S. ‘s match against England in last night’s international friendly. In particular, Wynalda questioned why Gio Reyna was a late substitute instead of being included in the starting eleven.
The 18-year-old midfielder had impressed in recent friendlies and played 7 minutes off the bench in a 0-0 draw against Iran but was not called upon from the start by team manager Berhalter.