There was a lot of excitement surrounding the USMNT as they got set to play the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with Borussia Dortmund youngster Gio Reyna being at the forefront of that feeling. Reyna was considered one of the rising stars for the Americans and had been heavily featured in World Cup qualifying play. That didn’t come to fruition at the World Cup, where the forward only played 53 minutes across the three group stage games and the round of 16 contest against Netherlands.
Many were surprised manager Gregg Berhalter didn’t play Reyna more, and there are reports this “benching” stems from Reyna’s lack of effort on the training ground. There were even rumors Reyna would be sent home, and now the forward has responded.
Gio Reyna on Instagram in response to Gregg Berhalter’s comments and reports he was nearly sent home from Qatar for his behavior in-camp. pic.twitter.com/n4UJqN7JMl— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) December 12, 2022
According to Reyna, Berhalter made it known the forward would have a limited role even before the tournament began. That impacted Reyna’s training intensity and put him further in the doghouse with Berhalter. There’s some more personal dynamics at play here as well. Reyna’s father, Claudio, played with Berhalter as they rose through the soccer ranks.
The timing of these reports is interesting as Berhalter gets set to negotiate his future with U.S. soccer. Reyna, a 20-year old, holds too much promise to play just 53 minutes in four games regardless of his work ethic. Is Berhalter going to keep him on the bench forever? There likely won’t be a Berhalter or Reyna mandate but the choice is obvious if it were to come down to that.
We’ll see if Reyna and Berhalter can mend the relationship, which has some personal ties as mentioned above. With the USA set to co-host the 2026 World Cup, it’s important to get all these issues cleared up now.