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Gio Reyna’s positional role for the USMNT, and why Berhalter can see him more as a winger


Gio Reyna’s long-awaited U.S. Men’s National Team debut is looming, and his first official call-up came on Tuesday, along with questions about just where he might line up when he takes the field for the first time.

Reyna has featured both as a central playmaker in Borussia Dortmund’s midfielder, but also as a winger, which is where he has been deployed more recently upon the return to action of Marco Reus. His exploits in the middle of the field had him looking like a viable candidate for one of the attacking midfield roles in Gregg Berhalter’s preferred 4-3-3 formation, but the USMNT coach sees the teenager potentially being better suited out wide.

He’s playing both recently. You’re pushing the central position, right, a little bit on me, but he’s also played wide, and recently played wide,” Berhalter said. “Again, for me, it’s the same. It’s how do they get him in position to affect the game? That’s what’s most important.

They’ve defended in the 5-3-2, they’ve defended in a 5-4-1, where he’s played wide. He moves all over the fields, and for us it’s about the same thing,” Berhalter said. “It’s putting him in a position to affect the game. We generally play in a 4-3-3. We’ve seen that, we’ve talked about wanting to defend now with three midfielders, so I guess you could say he would probably play on the wing for us.

“But, again, we want to put him in position, and put Christian (Pulisic) in a position to affect the game, and have output.”

Reyna isn’t your traditional speedy winger, but his effectiveness at taking on defenders on the flank has been clear to see in recent Dortmund matches, and was seen during his time with the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team. Berhalter has long seen Reyna as someone who could be more effective in a wide role, having told SBI in May of 2019 that he could see Reyna more as a wing player.

Reyna’s versatility makes him capable of handling playmaking duties in the middle of the field, but the defensive demands of the dual-10 roles in Berhalter’s system could make a wide role more of a fit for Reyna, who has show an ability to operate effectively as a winger on either side of the field.

Reyna’s ability to combine could also make him effective partnered with Pulisic, who plays predominantly as a winger for Chelsea, but who has shown the vision and work rate to operate centrally for the USMNT. The potential for the current and former Borussia Dortmund standouts to combine in the USMNT attack should have Berhalter and U.S. fans excited about the possibilities, no matter where Reyna lines up.


  1. Lets be honest…. GB doesnt want competition at AM and playing this kid there messes up his plans for Bradley.

    GB was, and is still a giant mistake. He will lead us to another WC miss if he’s allowed to stay

    • GB doesn’t want to play Bradley, but playing Gio there would actually block Bradley’s path to the field not open it. Berhalter did interview this week and clearly said Adams is a #6, relax everyone.

  2. Huh sure looked like Reyna was playing as a wing today? A position he’s played in 40% of games this season. It’s not where he lines up it’s his freedom to move in and out of different spaces.

    • he plays the majority of the time as an AM and has all his G and A this season playing there. probably the best 2 players we had last year were the wings. we suck at 10. but by all means let’s stack up wings like it’s costco, and let’s try to have a possession team without an AM who can complete a pass.

      i mean seriously dude.

      • Yet his club is 4-3 when he plays as an AM and 4-0 when he plays wing. He’s not going to play as a Klinsmann style one foot on the touch line winger, he’s going to be in the half spaces.

  3. if you think a tean’s spine is important GB’s idea of the spine is like zardes mckennie bradley brooks long. pffft. maybe the coach wants 20 wingers and no good 10. to me when a defense gets back in numbers on a 433 you need one or two mids (ie at least one “10”) capable of slicing and dicing in half court ball.

  4. You look at the diversity of upcoming talent and it really does look to be filling in nicely with complementary pieces for a this team. Sometimes the simplest, most obvious solution is the best one- don’t make it more complicated than it has to be- I get the feeling Berhalter has the tendency to over-think. Perhaps it is a result of way too much time w/ a severe lack of games. I was quite happy w/ the selections for the upcoming matches… have to admit to feeling a little nervy hearing his interviews at times, but……….. I’ll leave it at that and wait and reserve judgement. We have a minuscule sample to make any judgments on GB at this point. G-luck boys!

    • the best 2 central players for the time being will be reyna and adams. i think at least part of the problem is this guy like arena prefers veterans and inertia and thus instead of putting them in the obvious spot, he is biased towards the incumbents he already capped, and so it’s like how do they fit in some mckennie bradley concept. even though mckennie was a placeholder and bradley is past it. it’s what he’s done, he thinks he’s a genius, and his head explodes when faced with the potential he might have to change. i also think if he shoehorns adams and reyna on the field out of position as wing players he doesn’t have to admit he’s wrong. he lacks arena’s hauteur but he is just as arrogant that he already has it right. if so, where are my results?

      • Berhalter has given no indication that Bradley is at all in the plans going forward. With qualifying a year away and another MLS season occurring between now and then it’s unlikely Bradley will play any role let alone a major one. Bradley will be 35 by the next WC his only chance of being there is as an announcer. The only people who even bring him up anymore are guys looking for cheap likes.

      • you are confusing common sense with gregg berhalter. “Berhalter also talked about Bradley’s role with the USMNT, saying he’s one of the best players the American side has, as he is smart and technically excellent, and reads the game very well. “He’s an excellent, excellent player, he’s a guy you don’t have to make any promises to regarding what the future holds. He’s enjoying his moment when he’s here,” concluded the US coach.” on planet reality, when healthy, he was called in for the first NL pair of games, and started the canada debacle — as well as most of gold cup including the final. it might make complete sense to pasture him but on what planet has GB hinted that’s his plan?? given a choice he appears to be suggesting he would leave the central midfield intact and shift reyna wide. and you applaud that on another article. pick a lane, son.

    • Berhalter comments from nine months ago or older. Qualifying has since been pushed back another year and Bradley had another significant leg injury. He is not in the future plans.

  5. Every time Gregg starts talking I get more & more concerned about the direction he’s leading this team.
    We have 2 dynamic ball winning CMs (McKennie & Adams) that most reasonable coaches see as either 8’s or 6’s. We have a couple potential back-ups (Yueill, Cardoso, Pomykal, Otasowie, Moralez).
    We have a handful of winger options…Pulisic, Uli, Weah, Konrad, Boyd, Morris, etc…
    We have some interesting options at ACM…Reyna, Ledezma, Aaronson,

    Yet instead of aligning this team to our strengths (4-2-3-1) he’s insisting on forcing things & players to his 4-1-4-1 formation without balancing the line-up or putting players in positions to succeed.

    • Halfway through the 4 paragraph …Berhalter said. “It’s putting him in a position to affect the game. We generally play in a 4-3-3.”
      4-1-4-1?! C’mon, Lost! you’re better than this! Let me find out that you just come to the comment section and don’t read the article first. Lol

      • I read the article and get that Gregg calls it a 4-3-3 and at kick-off it may resemble a 4-3-3; but its actually a 4-1-4-1. Gregg wants a deep CDM with what he calls two attacking midfielders just in front (even though he’s primarily used two # 8’s). Yet, he still asks the 2 wide attackers at times to track back deep to recover possession, which leaves a lone striker.
        I guess you could call it a 4-1-2-2-1….but overall it’s a formation that does not make the most of our player pool. McKennie is not an ACM, he’s more of a true 8. And while Aaronson is more attack minded, he’s still more of an 8 than a 10, and once he gets to Europe I expect them to groom him as such.
        Reyan & Ledezma are the closest we have to actual 10’s, and while either could play wide it would not be the most effective use of them.

    • Last month you posted on my thread it doesn’t matter where players play, in reference to Reyna being a winger. I remember, because I disagreed, WHOLEHEARTEDLY! Now, your saying he’s not a winger but a 10. The writer actually has Berhalter quotes in the article and you are saying the formation, GB says he uses is not what he uses, but what YOU say he uses?! Alternative facts? Agree or disagree, I welcome anyone on my thread. All I ask, is that you are consistent. You’re on some imperative voice level of contradiction, on this one Lost.

    • I can’t tell if people are really this confused or if they just are Never Berhalter’s so they just make up stuff to complain about. They dual 10 idea went out the window with the hybrid RB. With the addition of a 2nd offensive minded FB and the arrival of Reyna (a creative and possession based W) we no longer needed 2 AM you have Reyna and Pulisic occupying the half spaces. Those two will create the chances while Dest and Robinson provide the width. Essentially CP and Gio become the dual 10s. Wes and Ty are free to breakup counters and arrive late into the box after the front three have cleared the space. Berhalter has continued to adapt his formation to meet the strengths and weaknesses of his players. Fulham, Barca, Juve, BvB, Bremen, and Chelsea all use different formations and playing styles it would be completely disjointed to try to play everyone in their club position.

    • This may come off conceited, but if you’re still focusing all of your attention on starting “formation” you have not been paying attention to the tactical changes of the last 5 years. Teams now are like amoebas constantly changing shape in a way to put players in “zones” to expose the opposition. Focus on the “zones”players are receiving the ball, making challenges and interceptions. Do not focus on the little graphic they show on tv before kickoff.

      • The formation tells the viewer exactly what zone the player(s) will be in. There’s only a handful of managers these days who teach zoning concepts. They’re in the Premiership like Pep or Klopp. …or Serie A (Conte & former manager Sarri). And Pep has the most progressive zoning concepts. Nagelsmann for Leipzig has zoning concepts, which is why Tyler Adams has improved on his spatial awareness. Nagelsmann is the only manager I’ve named who has used a 4-4-2, or 4-1-4-1. Pep & Klopp never use that formation. Conte and Sarri use 3 CBs in the back. My point is GB hasn’t used a 4-4-2, or a 4-1-4-1 while in possession. Not only can you see it, but he’s done an interview saying this. I’m not a person who watches a ball get kicked back & forth. Don’t confuse me with Lost in Space.

      • It is not true at all that only a handful of managers are playing with a zonal concept. It certainly was started with guys like Guardiola but has spread throughout Europe. Formation only nominally suggests a starting position. Teams attack and defend in different formations. They are constantly roaming into different roles depending on which zone the ball is in. The most common example is attacking with 5 spread across the front. Gio could easily defend the wide areas and take up the inside right position when we have the ball with Dest outside of him. At other times he could play the 5th “zone” outside right with dest underlapping or Mckennie surging into the inside right position. This would all depend on where the ball comes from.
        Like I said, to know the true role the player has been asked to play you really have to look at a heat map after the game. The starting formation is not a great predictor of what the player will do

  6. Well said Gary Page. One interpretation is that he sees Adams and Mckennie occupying the “dual 10” midfield roles together, or alternatively- Pulisic-Mckennie with Adams as right back. This naturally leaves the holding midfield position for Michael Bradley (or Trapp or Yeuill). I know that sounds conspiratorial but it is a plausable fit to Berhalter strangely stacking his wing players instead of fitting the system to the most talented players. Personally, I hope MB90 is no longer in Berhlaters thinking and I don’t actually mind Yeuil being given a good shot at the role. He has been steadily improving and if that trend continues- he has a legit chance to be a starter in 2022.

  7. This, to me, is another example of Berhalter’s tortured thinking and poor strategy. He’s determined to fit players into his system rather than build his system around his players. Winger may be our deepest position. We need a good boss in the middle and who is the playmaker in the US pool if not Reyna? Pulisic is a winger, Weah is a winger, Morris is a winger, Boyd is a winger, and Zardes can play winger. Add Reyna and we have 6 wingers. Plus Berhalter wants to use Adams as a RB who converts to winger. The reason we usually lose to Mexico is because they control the midfield. You control the midfield and you control the game. We need Reyna in the midfield to feed the forwards and follow up behind them in attack. He is wasted on the wing.

    • He hasn’t talked about as Adams as RB in 18 months and no replacement has ever taken that roll. Nagelsman and Marsch both used Adams at RB more than Berhalter.

      • No he’s stopped talking about using Adams as a RB and has started to refer to him as a partner for McKennie with a Deep CDM behind them.
        Every time Gregg opens his mouth anymore he’s saying something stupid….

    • Okay, he’ stopped talking about using Adams as a winger. Who knows what he will actually do. Even if he has abandoned that idea, however, that doesn’t at all negate my main point. He is not making the best use of his material because he is wedded to a certain idea, and doesn’t consider the players he has to use. Maybe the greatest coach of all time was John Wooden, UCLA basketball. He used many different types of approaches according to the players he had.(small, pressing team, low post big man–Alcindor-with sharp shooting guard for an inside-out game, high post with Walton as a passing center, forward dominated lineup where they scored mostly from inside 12 feet). He fit his approach to his players and won 10 championships that way.

    • when i keep drumbeating about the XI or the 23 instead of obsessing on pulisic, this is part of what i am getting at. we seem to like abstracted player discussions, even the coaches lately. what you need is the best XI position specialists you can get on the field together. we instead seem to want to make it into a perceived “best 11” all star team based on ideas of form and reputation. we need to start acting more like coaches. who is actually a 10. who is actually a 6. who can defend in the back. which strikers can cross or finish. which keeper keeps the most balls out of the net. if it was real position battles as opposed to “but he plays at _____’ or “he’s a leader” then bradley and many of the backs would be out of jobs. and only an idiot would start the jack of all trades master of none mckennie ahead of purer technicians like reyna, when what you badly need is someone to complete passes centrally and create and not be such a turnover machine. mckennie, reputation and home aside, is an interesting player without a positional home. but to see that you have to forget “Juve” and “capped veteran” and instead look critically at what he has done in caps as an AM, the results achieved, and what positions he seems tailor made for. i actually think people are only half right. not only is he forcing a system and formation that don’t work right, for someone pimping system he has an idea of the sort of player who should fill his specialist roles. you’d think someone this obsessive on system would have a better sense of how talent fits his roles. because when it comes to running out players to fill his formation he glitches and forces dumb ideas. and favors some older guys like the 2018 bunch made russia instead of missing it. incumbency bias only makes sense if you have something to be proud of. given how russia went and how much he’s selling system he should be more rigorous than he is.


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