Giovanni Reyna’s time at Borussia Dortmund has been a whirlwind to say the least. Beginning with the club’s Under-19 team to earning promotion to the first team squad in a matter of months, Reyna is now looking forward to future success with the Bundesliga club.
The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team prospect has been waiting for league play to resume after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the Bundesliga to postpone play. This weekend will be Reyna’s first chance to get back into a stadium with Dortmund hosting Rivierderby rivals Schalke at Signal Iduna Park.
With his break coming to an end, Reyna reflected on his time with the first team so far, including his first senior goal against Werder Bremen in the German Cup.
“There have been a lot of firsts for me,” Reyna said in an interview with ESPN. “There have been cool little milestones I’ve hit so far.”
“My first thoughts were, ‘We have to get the ball’ and go score another as we were 3-2 down. The goal was great, and people say to me, I may not score a goal like that in the rest of my career … but it was just instinct.”
After beginning his career with NYCFC’s Academy, Reyna moved to Dortmund after fellow American Christian Pulisic subsequently made his move to English Premier League club Chelsea. Bringing different elements than his international teammate, Reyna hasn’t found all of his senior appearances to be positive.
The young forward has had to wait for his opportunities with teammates Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, and Thorgan Hazard all ahead of him in the Dortmund offensive pecking order. Regardless, Reyna has been able to debut in three different competitions, while learning from several experienced first team players.
“There have been some difficult times, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Reyna said. “But all I need to do is keep my head looking forward, eyes on the future and hopefully I can do some more pretty cool stuff.”
Sancho and Haaland are also exciting faces of the Dortmund attack, totaling for 29 goals and 21 assists in all competitions for the current second place side in the Bundesliga. Sancho has excelled as one of the top young European players while Haaland has made an immediate impact since his move in January from Red Bull Salzburg.
Both players may be further along in their development, but it hasn’t stopped them from being positive role models for the 17-year-old American. Reyna will need to learn from both players in order to become a better player and a better teammate for the long run.
“I look up to him because he’s done so many things in a young career, and he’s a great guy,” Reyna said of Haaland. “He’s encouraged me, as he sees something in me.”
“I think the biggest thing for any young player is to be confident. … I’m here because I belong,” Reyna said. “Those guys [Haaland and Sancho] told me mistakes happen, even Messi and Ronaldo make mistakes. You make it, then put it behind you and move on. Jadon knows how I felt. He’s been there for me and I could always go to him with stuff if I needed help off the field.”
Reyna’s rapid rise to Dortmund’s first team not only has club fans excited, but also supporters of the USMNT. With his expected senior debut put on hold earlier this year due to COVID-19, Reyna’s next opportunity to feature for Gregg Berhalter’s team will be this Fall.
Until then, he will look to help Dortmund win their first Bundesliga title since 2014. Lucien Favre’s squad are four points behind leaders Bayern Munich in the league table and know any slip-ups with nine matches remaining could see their valiant fight fall short.