Giovanni Reyna is set to be one of several fresh faces expected to make U.S. Men’s National Team debuts on Thursday and the Borussia Dortmund playmaker is eager to check that milestone off his list after a lengthy wait.
Reyna earned his first senior call-up to Gregg Berhalter’s squad, seven months after previously being linked with his debut for the USMNT. After impressing at Dortmund over the past nine months, the 17-year-old comes into the senior squad with the USMNT ready to begin a national team career filled with promise.
“I’m very happy to be here finally,” Reyna said in a conference call Wednesday. “I think everybody’s kind of said what I feel which is that we have an exciting young group and the future overall is really exciting. I think everyone is happy to have this new group together.
“I just have to play my game like I always do at Dortmund,” Reyna said. “If I can replicate what I do at Dortmund then I feel I can be successful here too. So it will be a good experience overall.”
Reyna was set to be called in for USMNT duty back in March ahead of European friendlies against Wales and the Netherlands, but those matches were ultimately cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In the months since that missed opportunity, Reyna has blossomed into a rising talent in the Bundesliga with Dortmund, excelling alongside fellow young players Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, and Jude Bellingham.
Reyna became the second recent American player to play for Dortmund, following in the footsteps of Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic, who moved to the Premier League after four seasons in Germany. Pulisic withdrew from USMNT camp on Wednesday after dealing with a nagging hamstring injury.
“Of course we’re going to miss Christian obviously, he’s a good player for us and always is a threat,” Reyna said. “It’s unfortunate, but I think for me I just have to try and help the team and be involved. I’m just ready to help the team wherever possible.”
“Overall it’s been a long time since the last U.S. camp, but I know everybody is so excited to be back together and tomorrow to be able to back on the field and rep the jersey,” Reyna said. “There’s the possibility that many players could make their debuts (Thursday) so it’s going to be an exciting day for a lot of reasons. We’re going to work really hard and show what we can do.”
After impressing for several U.S. Youth National Teams, Reyna should get his first chance to feature under Berhalter, a former USMNT player himself and longtime friend and teammate of Gio’s father, former USMNT captain Claudio Reyna. Despite learning a new system and connecting with several new players, Reyna will have a sense of familiarity, having known Berhalter for years.
“Of course I know him really well and I have for almost my whole life so it just makes it that much more comfortable,” Reyna said. “He’s super easy to talk to and is always there to give advice whenever or if I need it. His system kind of fits the players we have and we want to create chances and play exciting stuff. I think his style fits what we have here.”
Berhalter has lauded Reyna’s versatility, and sees him fitting in as a winger, at least initially. Reyna has already shown at Dortmund that he can be an impact player in multiple roles, and he has wasted no time impressing USMNT teammates with his skill and poise.
“He’s had experience with the Youth National Teams and had some positive experiences with Dortmund so far,” McKennie said. “Gio’s adapted really well in camp, I can see it in training, whether it’s playing passes with him or watching. He’s doing what he’s meant to be doing and he’s excelling at it all very well which is amazing for a kid of his age.”