Gio Reyna returns to USMNT amid scandal that, U.S. Soccer insists, won’t affect him

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 3: Christian Pulisic #10 and Gio Reina #7 of the USA find a solis with each other after losing to the Netherlands after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match in Qatar between the Netherlands and USMNT at Khalifa 3 International Stadium December 2022 in Doha, Qatar.  (Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Gio Reina will join Christian Pulisic and 11 other 2022 World Championship veterans in the first USMNT competitive roster since Qatar. (Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Among the many unanswered questions that stem from the Berhalter-Reine saga, one of the most important for the future of American football revolves around a 20-year-old teenager whose interpretation of his parents’ behavior and the investigation that revealed it is completely unclear.

No one knows how Gio Reina, arguably the most talented soccer player this country has ever produced, is currently dealing with the scandal that has engulfed the US men’s team since the World Cup.

We, the public, do not know how he endured the villainy of his father and mother; we don’t know how he might feel about the USMNT and US Soccer management, past, present and temporal.

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As such, it was notable that, despite assurances from US Soccer that none of this would affect Gio’s position on the team, he accepted the challenge this week ahead of USMNT’s first two competitive games since Qatar.

And according to acting coach Anthony Hudson, who spoke to Gio this week and earlier, “there was no hesitation.” Hudson said on Wednesday that when he met Gio in person and then extended the invitation, “To be honest, I never felt any resistance. [him] returns.”

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKenney, Tim Rome and nine other World Cup veterans from Europe also took up the challenge. Zach Steffen, Ricardo Pepi, Daryl Dyke and Miles Robinson are back in the ranks. Taylor Booth, Auston Trusty and others recently committed Alejandro Zendejas could make their debut against Grenada or El Salvador later this month.

But Reina is, of course, the most prominent name on the USMNT roster of 24 for those CONCACAF Nations League matches.

After 53 minutes at the World Cup and a major disappointment, Reina admitted that “I let my emotions get the better of me” in Qatar, especially after he was informed that his role on the field at the tournament would be limited. But in this the same statement posted on Instagram one week after the liquidation of USMNT as report from anonymous sources and Gregg Berhalter’s comments were circulated, he disagreed with the “heavily fictionalized versions of events” that were depicted. He also wrote that he was “extremely surprised that anyone on the US men’s team contributed to” the ongoing coverage – an implicit reference to Berhalter, who thought his comments were off the record.

The following month, with the drama surrounding his parents, Gio returned to form with his club team, Borussia Dortmund. He scored the world class winning goal in Dortmund’s first game since the break in the Bundesliga World Cup. He was celebrating defiantly, “shhh” and chattering with two fingers in his ears. Three days later, he scored the second consecutive winning goal.

But throughout the winter, especially after his playing time at Dortmund all but disappeared in February, uncertainty about his USMNT future lingered.

Hudson, a former Berhalter aide and now acting US chief, visited Gio in Germany last month and tried to dispel those uncertainties. “He’s a talented, important player, a young player, and that had to be addressed.” Hudson told The Athletic.. He said the meeting “went well”. He noted that Reina reacted positively to the fact that he lacks efforts in Qatar. “Other than that, I don’t see Gio being involved in anything,” he said, referring to the split and investigation involving his parents and coach.

American players also tried to solve this problem. Rome, speaking podcast called it “non-story” in December. In January, Walker Zimmerman noted that Reina is among the USMNT players in the fantasy football group chat and said that he had interacted with Reina and Berhalter after Qatar. “It’s not a problem for us to keep in touch with them. We are friends. We are close. It’s not a problem for us,” Zimmerman said.

Hudson stressed that “other things” are helicopter parenting and interference; vague threats from Gio’s parents, Claudio and Danielle; the statement that brought public attention to Berhalter’s 1992 assault on his current wife is “separated from the child, from the player”.

He repeated that on Wednesday. Two days after US Soccer has published an investigation report. this likely tarnished Claudio and Danielle’s reputation forever, and it included detailed descriptions of the now-former sporting director Ernie Stewart of Gio’s World Cup “mop”.[ing]”and two days after This is stated in a statement by US Soccer. that Berhalter, whose contract expired on Dec. 31, remains a candidate for a long-term reinstatement — Hudson said in a press release that “to the best of our knowledge, Gio is part of our program. He is a good guy. and the greatest talent, and is judged just like any other player.”

The big question is whether Gio feels it all. Hudson declined to go into details of their conversations. He admitted that Gio was “influenced” by a “very, very difficult situation” over him, and that going through this would be a “challenge” for everyone. But Gio, according to Hudson, seems “to be in good shape, in the sense that I see him firmly focused on his football, his game and getting back to camp.”

So Gio, along with 23 other players, will be heading to Orlando next week. The USMNT will then fly to Grenada for the match on March 24 (8:00 pm ET, TNT/Universo/Peacock) before returning to Florida for the CONCACAF Nations League group final against El Salvador on March 27 (7:30 pm ET, TNT /peacock). Universo/Peacock). The US only needs to avoid defeat in both games to qualify for the June Nations League final.

Below is the complete list. Most Notable Absent, Captain Tyler Adams, suffered a hamstring injury while exercising at his club Leeds United this week. The next most important absentees are Josh Sargent, Chris Richards and Cameron Carter-Vickers.

USMNT March Lineup

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town), Zach Steffen (Middlesbrough), Matt Turner (Arsenal)

DEFENDERS (8): Serginho Dest (Milan), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Tim Rome (Fulham), Brian Reynolds (Westerlo), Anthony Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Joe Scully (Borussia Monchengladbach), Auston Trusty (Birmingham City). )

Midfielders (6): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds), Johnny Cardoso (International), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKenny (Leeds), Yunus Musa (Valencia), Alan Soñora (Juarez) )

Strikers (7): Taylor Booth (Utrecht), Daryl Dyke (West Bromwich Albion), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reina (Borussia Dortmund), Tim Weah (Lille) Alejandro Zendejas (America)

USMNT 2023 Detachment Separation Plan

Robinson is the only MLS player on the list, and this is by design. With January and April friendlies outside of FIFA windows scheduled for this March camp, and with two CONCACAF tournaments this summer, USMNT staff are developing a split-team approach similar to the one they used in 2021.

European players were not available in January and will not be available when the US faces Mexico on April 19th. They will also need a break when the grueling World Cup season ends in June.

In the meantime, MLS players were available in January and will be available in April. They will be available for both the Nations League Final (June) and the Gold Cup (June-July), but participation in both will take them away from their clubs for more than a month during the height of the MLS season.

“So,” Hudson said on Wednesday, balancing all of these factors, “so that we can really plan for this and have strong teams in all of these competitions, we have decided to select a team in a certain way for the next few upcoming camps. up.”

In all likelihood, the Euro heavyweight team will return in early to mid-June for the Nations League final and then head into the off-season. The American team will return for an isolated friendly in April, and most – though not all – of these players will compete for the Gold Cup in late June and early July. There may be some overlap and some geographic deviations, as was the case in 2021. But there will be few of them.

“We did it in 2021, it worked really well when we obviously won both tournaments and we more or less did it with two separate rosters,” Hudson said. “It suited us, we did it before. Also, it made sense in terms of working with the clubs, not overloading the players.”

And as for Robinson, the only exception to the rule this month? He is trying to get back from the torn Achilles. In April, players will travel from league games over the weekend to Wednesday friendlies in Arizona, and then into the next round of league games next weekend – a big load.

“We think it’s important for him to try his best to play one game a week rather than overload him with two games,” Hudson said of Robinson. “So we decided that this camp was more suitable for the April camp.”

Oh, and also: “We just want to bring him back, see him, work with him and reintegrate him back into the team” for the first time in almost a year.


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