Several sources close to the US it. Men’s national team have provided details to the Athletic that help explain the absence of attacker Gio Reyna in the World Cup.
The sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said Reyna showed an alarming lack of effort ahead of America’s tournament opener against Wales on Nov. 21, including in a scrimmage against Qatari club Al Gharafa SC on November 17. Reyna’s lack of intensity in the scrimmage — sources described him walking around his time on the field during what was otherwise an intense session — caused significant frustration within the team. The lack of effort was so pronounced that it was unclear whether Reyna was protecting against an injury or just frustrated that he was not set to be a starter against Wales.
The drama surrounding Reyna crescendoed during the Wales game, when Reyna threw his shin guards without subbing in, and then in another Wales training session in which Reyna’s lack of effort continued again. That prompted several veteran players to speak with Reyna, including DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long, who pulled him aside and urged him to show more effort moving forward.
The sources said that the situation became untenable and that it had to be talked about several times, including with the coaching staff, until, finally, Reyna got up before a video session and apologized to his teammates for his initial lack of intensity and said that He understood he was part of a collective group. Following the apology, several players on the team spoke out to hold Reyna accountable for his actions. Sources said players believed the group and its culture would be able to overcome the issues following Reyna’s apology, and that the 20-year-old had turned a corner regarding his effort in training. In the team, the issues with Reyna ended there, the sources said.
Coach Gregg Berhalter appeared to mention the Reyna situation without naming the player at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York last Tuesday, comments that appeared in a CharterWorks newsletter this week.
“In the last World Cup, we had a player who clearly did not meet expectations on and off the field,” Berhalter said. “One of 26 players, so it stood out. As a staff, we sat together for hours and discussed what we were going to do with this player. We were ready to book a plane ticket home, that’s how extreme it was. And 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 conduct ourselves from here on out. There won’t be any more infractions.
“But the other thing we said to him was, you’re going to have to apologize to the group, but it’s going to have to say why you’re sorry. It’s going to have to go deeper than just, ‘Guys, I’m sorry.’ And I prepared the leadership group with that. I said, ‘Okay, this guy is going to apologize to you as a group, to the whole team.’ And what was fantastic about the whole thing is that after he apologized, they stood up one by one and said, ‘Sir, it’s not good enough. You didn’t meet our expectations of a team and we want to see changes.’ They really took ownership of the process and from that day on there were no problems with the player.
“As a coach, the way you can deal with things most appropriately is back to your values. Because it’s difficult to send a player home. It would be a massive controversy. You would have read about it for five days straight. But we were willing to do so because he did not meet the group’s standards, and the group was willing to do so as well.
Multiple attempts to reach Reyna’s agent were not immediately successful.
Some of the issues with Reyna leaked into the public during the tournament after Reyna did not play against Wales.
Berhalter used his first four subs while the U.S. it. Led the match 1-0, then chose to bring on winger Jordan Morris for Tim Weah after Wales equalized in the 82nd minute. After the match, Berhalter explained his decision to opt for Morris over Reyna, saying that “in the phase of the game we are in, we went with Jordan, who we felt could give us something with speed and power.” Noting that the team carried out a “last-minute check” on Reyna, he deemed him “good” and said he envisioned him playing a role against England in the second group stage of the U.S. .
Asked to explain what the last-minute check was for, Berhalter said “you could see there was a bit of tightness” during the scrimmage with Al Gharafa a few days earlier, that the team had “built him up” and that ” We think he can play a big role in this tournament – the question is when, and hopefully on Friday (against England) he will be another step forward.
A few minutes later, Reyna told reporters in the mixed zone that he was completely fine.
“I felt good, I felt ready to go,” Reyna said. “But that was just his decision.”
On the day of the England game, the former US Wynalda claimed that there was “internal strife” within the team regarding Berhalter’s decision not to play Reyna. He also claimed that Berhalter lied to the media when he told reporters after the Wales game that he had kept Reino out of that match due to an injury. Wynalda said he spoke with Gio’s father Claudio, the former US
“With Gio Reyna out of the lineup right now, that’s been a massive controversy within the team – even his own teammates want him on the field and it seems to be (causing) internal conflict with the (team) and manager Gregg Berhalter” , Wynalda said. “I don’t know how much I should comment on it, but I tried to comfort Gio’s father, Claudio, in the last couple of hours, well, the last couple of days with everything that happened. He was fit to play,” Berhalter lied. to the media and said it was an injury, asked the player to go with the story, which caused a rift between them and now he is on the bench which is really. Unfortunate. The situation should have been handled very differently.”
Wynalda backtracked a bit on his initial comments In a tweet posted to his account the day after his initial comments.
Berhalter was not asked about Wynalda’s claims in his press conferences before or after the England game, although he clarified in a reply that it was a “coach’s decision” not to play Reyna against Wales. Reyna played seven minutes against England. Berhalter was then asked before the Iran game if there were any rifts between him and Gio Reyna and whether, as Winalda claims, he lied to the media and arranged for Reyna to tell reporters that he was injured after the Vols game.
“Talking about the four-year journey, right, it’s also been four years of interacting with you (the press contingent). And what I would say is, you know, I’ll leave it to you to decide if I asked Gio to Lie about it,” said Berhalter. “That’s just not who I am. That’s not what I represent. So, you know, if you have to take Eric’s word or my word or whatever, feel free, but I know what happened, that’s not what I represent. Like any other person, Gio is a member of this team that we care deeply about and we know can help the team. It’s a matter of when he can help us and how he can help us.”
Shortly after that response, Wynalda walked back his initial statement after appearing on his SiriusXM show.
on counter attack, @EricWynalda Clarified comments he made about #USMNT Head coach Gregg Berhalter on Twitter spaces with the @latimes.
Listen to the whole conversation with @KeithCostigan Here – https://t.co/cv63ZlzuVl pic.twitter.com/9J2DQK2mIK
— SiriusXM FC 157 ⚽️📻 (@SiriusXMFC) November 28, 2022
Reyna did not end up playing against Iran on Nov. 29 as the U.S. it. Spent the second half defending a narrow 1-0 lead.
“I think a lot of it comes down to timing and circumstance,” Berhalter said before facing the Netherlands in the round of 16. “If you look at how the games have unfolded, we have the lead and have to hold on to the lead later In games. The only game we don’t have this scenario, we actually put him in to help get the victory. So it’s just how we can use him in the most effective way. Really talented player, and we’re looking for the right moment . But he can, no doubt, help his team.”
Berhalter used Reyna more significantly in the US. it. s loss to the Netherlands on December 3. Down 2-0 at halftime, he brought the Borussia Dortmund attacker for the second half, then shifted him to the wing when he inserted center forward Haji Wright. Reyna largely failed to make an impact in the contest, finishing his first World Cup with a total of 52 minutes as the US.
Reina Scored for Dortmund In a shortened, 60-minute friendly against Rapid Bucharest, the third-place team in the Hungarian Superliga on Saturday in the “Christmas Cup” in Bucharest.
(Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images; Design: Eamonn Dalton)