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Berhalter ready to give Reyna his turn in big games when USMNT returns to action

Five months ago, Gregg Berhalter was preaching patience when it came to Gio Reyna, as mounting buzz was propelling the young American into the U.S. Men’s National Team conversation.

Five months later, and after Reyna’s continued growth at Borussia Dortmund, Berhalter sees a player ready for bigger challenges after being brought along at a good pace by his club.

“Dortmund did a great job of integrating him into the group in a calculated way to help him perform at high levels,” Berhalter told SBI when asked about Reyna on a conference call on Tuesday. “How do we challenge him? How do we put him in a difficult environment to help him grow as a player? He’s one of those players who will keep rising to the challenge and we need to provide him with that.”

The 17-year-old sensation become a regular fixture in Dortmund’s rotation when the Bundesliga returned to action in May. Reyna broke through with the first team in January after being promoted from the U-19 team and made an immediate impact. He wound up finishing the season with two goals and two assists in 16 matches.

In February, Berhalter told SBI that he would be patient with integrating Reyna, citing the importance of not rushing a player into the USMNT program before he was ready.

“It’s also managing that side of it, and not worrying about fan expectations because you also have a young player who needs to adapt to the demands of professional soccer,” Berhalter told SBI in Feburary. “It’s really important to be mindful of that, and just as much as he’s made progress now he can he can lose time if he gets injured or he stops playing.”

Reyna’s progression was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent stoppage in play, but when Dortmund resumed play in May Reyna was still a key part of Lucien Favre’s plan.

Berhalter had planned to call in Reyna to his first USMNT camp for the scheduled March friendlies against Netherlands and Wales, which wound up being canceled, so now Berhalter, Reyna and USMNT fans are left to wait for the return of international soccer to get their first chance to see Reyna with the senior national team.

His first chances just might come in crucial CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing continued delays in the return of international soccer.

While Berhalter might not have been ready to throw Reyna into high-pressure qualifiers right away six months ago, a half year watching Reyna thrive in the Bundesliga and Champions League has the USMNT coach ready to give the young standout his chance.

“Gio’s going to grow into a fantastic player, there’s no question about it,” Berhalter said. “Our job is to help with that growth. Does that mean him getting an opportunity, an early opportunity, to play in difficult games? That’s going to make him better, make him rise to an even higher level.”


  1. Konrad de la Fuente went 106 minutes in Barca B’s penalty shootout win today. One more win and they earn promotion.

    • Josh Perez’s Castellon won in extra time 1-0. Josh is training with the club and will be with the club next season. The four remaining clubs are all from Group 3 of Segunda B on the East coast. Barce B will play 3rd place Sabadell (beat them 1-0 earlier this season), 1st place Castellon will play 4th place Cornelia (Castellon won 3-1 in Dec.). Looking like a decent chance to have two more Americans in Spanish 2nd division next season.

  2. Reyna just way above the curve. Rules are different for him, as they were for Pulisic. He does get his share of yellow cards, though, so that’s a thing. I eventually see him as a central attacking mid, but wherever we line him up, it’s great.

    • He should have been called last year on the same trajectory Pulisic was. That we’ve waited until he became a first team regular, to me, is actually a beat slow.

      • If you followed Pulisic he would have been called in March which didn’t happen because of Covid. Are you blaming Berhalter for the pandemic too?

      • you’re confused. pulisic was called into 2016 qualifiers while barely getting first team minutes. i am not talking this year. i am talking why is GB less risk taking than JK on obvious leading prospects.

  3. Mostly I just hope they can get qualifying done in time and we can play home games in the US. Things are so out of control now, it may be difficult to find a place for US home games that an opponent will agree to play in. Secondly, I sure wish we would have a complete healthy squad for a change. Don’t know if we’ve had a game yet when Pulisic, Adams, McKennie, and Weah have all been available. Add Reyna to that mix and maybe Morris and that’s a pretty strong front 6.

    • I don’t see anyway it would be feasible to have qualifying this Fall, cases are rising in almost all Concacaf countries, many European players would have to quarantine for two weeks when they returned to their clubs. It just doesn’t make sense. I know Berhalter mentioned starting the Hex in November but that seems like a dream scenario.

      • Wasn’t there to be a meeting of CONCAF officials to discuss the potential changes to Qualifying? Can’t remember the time frame of when the meeting was to take place, but I believe there was discussion of using the 2021 Gold Cup as the qualification process.

        Gary, We’ve never had a game where Pulisic, Adams, McKennie, & Weah have been called up, because Gregg has never called Weah into a camp. Last time Weah was called into a Sr. Camp was in Nov. of 2018…but even in 2018 we never had those 4 together. On 3/21/19 was the last time Pulisic, Adams & McKennie were together on the field….but have not been together since due to Adams injuries.
        However you look at it we’ve not yet been able to get our best players into a camp together. Some of it has been injuries, some of it has been Gregg’s player selections. Hopefully whenever international play resumes we’ll finally be able to see our Best players….
        Pulisic, McKennie, Adams, Reyna, Brooks, Dest, A. Robinson, etc. There are still a number of positions up for grabs Especially at Forward, Center Mid, & Center Back…where almost everyone has their preferred option. That said, I for one hope we’ve seen the last of Lovitz, Ream, Bradley, & Roldan….but I don’t think we have.

      • Actually all four played together for 14 mins vs England. Adams came on in the 62 and Weah and Wes off in the 76th. In March of 2019 Weah played for the U23s (which were training with the U20s in Spain) and then was at the U20 WC during June. He was injured before the fall call ups. The plan all along was for Weah to play the U20 WC so that he could secure his transfer and join his new club at the start of preseason. The only thing that didn’t work was Tim getting injured in the 2nd match of the year.

      • It is also possible if this lasts a while that qualifying will look very different and perhaps be a single site, short tournament — like they do for women’s quali and used to do decades ago for the predecessor to CCL and some men’s world cup quali. I could even see someone with their corona-crap together like Canada hosting it instead of us. I think we’d also be more vulnerable in a short tournament for the same reasons we struggled in Nations League, and don’t usually make the Olympics. Work in progress with goofy tactics meets high stakes games.

    • I saw an article at some point where Concacaf said the September qualifying window was being postponed. Basically that because we didn’t have the May friendlies and Nations League resolution/June friendlies, they view the initial rounds as incomplete to move to the Hex, seemingly felt that they had short-changed teams on the games for FIFA rank. So even at face value they are going to redo the format, maybe push back what was expected, no earlier than October. To me, as other suggest, the virus is still out there nasty and most countries are scared and not as loosey goosey as here. I don’t foresee (much? any?) international soccer until 2021 or maybe even 2022. Not enough is being done to make it go away, and countries will be more cautious with international travel and their star players, as well as with the broader societal risks.

    • When he had a Weah window in spring ’19 he sent him to Olympic camp with Sargent instead. I know he has been hurt and personally think he should be a 23-guy but I make no assumptions on GB, who favors veterans with first team minutes, and may not rate him as high as Sarachan or I. I also think Adams is great and if healthy and the same level as before should probably start. But again GB is conservative and he hasn’t been capped in years. I would assume nothing and inherent in that is a critique of GB’s conservatism on our young talent. I’m not assuming the whole youth bubble gets promoted up until the 2026 cycle, and bluntly I think that’s a waste. The best players on this team are barely 20. The best recent results for this team vs Mexico (2018) or France were young teams. The more we tilt back to 2018 cycle veterans the worse we do. And maybe there’s another cap Nagbe story up……


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