It has been six months since Gio Reyna took the field for the U.S. men’s national team, but as long as that absence has been, Gregg Berhalter isn’t about to be hasty about overusing the young star now that he is poised to make his USMNT return.
The 19-year-old was included in the 27-man USMNT roster for the March friendlies after making a pair of substitute appearances for Borussia Dortmund following his latest injury setback, which came just three matches after his return from a five-month injury layoff.
It is that difficult injury history that has Berhalter cautious about how he will utilize the young winger, and his limited workload since returning is likely to keep him confined to a substitute’s role for the March qualifiers.
“I had a good call with Dortmund today, with the coach at Dortmund and planning out his usage, how much we can use (Reyna),” Berhalter said. “The important thing is us qualifying to the World Cup, but secondly, it’s Gio returning healthy to his club. And we’re mindful of his load, the work that he’s done the last couple of weeks, and we’re going to adjust accordingly.”
Reyna was originally sidelined by a hamstring injury suffered while on international duty back in September, and suffered a setback in the form of a thigh injury that delayed his return even further. As a result, Reyna has not played more than 45 minutes in a match since September, though he did register a game-winning assist in Dortmund’s last league match.
Reyna’s versatility, and attacking quality can make him a dangerous threat off the bench, as evidenced by his recent game-winning assist for Dortmund, and his ability to play both as a winger and in central midfield could help the USMNT offset the injury absence of Weston McKennie.
“I wouldn’t rule out Gio being able to play (in central midfield),” Berhalter said. “The issue is just his rhythm, his fitness and his game time in these last five months. Eventually. I think it’s a position he can play and we’ll have to see if it happens in this window.”