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USMNT to carefully manage Gio Reyna’s return

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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.”

Comments

  1. Historically, the USMNT usually does poorly on the first game back after a long layoff.

    Having that game at Azteca vs. a Mexico who should be as motivated as is possible, won’t help.

    The USMNT is not a smart or a patient veteran team. Asking them to approach that game with a nuanced, measured approach is asking for trouble.

    Their best attitude is balls to the wall aggression. Going to Azteca looking to draw, that’s not in this team’s DNA and is likely to result in a loss.

    If they go to Azteca and go after Mexico and lose, it’s not a bad thing. If it’s close, and it should be, then they can tell themselves that it is a good warmup for Panama.

    They can then go into the Panama game looking to take it out on them. That would be well in their wheelhouse.

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  2. this is not a friendly. i am uncomfortable with anything that sounds like negotiating player minutes for games that count. unless he’s injured, he is released. if he is released, it’s our business how much he plays. it is fair enough that GB should assess his physical state and do risk reward on how much he plays. but that decision shouldn’t be farmed out and decided by what his club coach thinks. now, i wouldn’t refuse input but this is why GB makes a million-plus, is to decide how much, including whether his club coach is right or wrong. show him up for camp, kick the tires, talk to him, make your own decision. one reason i dislike his “club form” obsession is it implicitly tracks this sort of follow the leader game where the club team gives their stamp of approval and we genuflect to it. this is potentially freighted with the sort of anti-american bias we have had to already overcome. maybe we’re smarter? make your own decisions.

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  3. So moving on from end of the bench debate (and trying to shoehorn in some GB hate)…

    I’m mostly concerned about getting three points from the Panama game. The US has never gone to Mexico or Costa Rica and gotten three points (and rarely, if ever, one – im too lazy to look that up) in WCQ. The home game with Panama is it – where the entire focus of this window needs to be.
    .
    Hate me but I’d run a weaker squad out in Azteca and park the bus – play for a draw. Then have a well rested best 11 available for Panama and (just in case) Costa Rica.

    The US focus should be to beat out Panama and Costa Rica for the 3rd and 4th spot. If the US only gets 3 pts from this window it will have 24pts. Which means:

    -Panama would need 7pts from Honduras, @US and Canada(who will be already qualified) to equal the US pts and will have to overcome and goal difference. I see 6pts.

    -Costa Rica would need 8pts from Canada, @El Salvador and the US plus make up an 8pt goal differential. (I see 7-9pts with Canada being the big one. Go Canada! If Canada gets any result then Costa Rica can’t reach the US if the US only gets 3 from Panama).

    So on Thursday you’ll find me sipping margaritas, eating tacos and not worrying about the result in Mexico with an eye of Canada. However on Wednesday I’ll not have slept and be chewing on my fingers while pacing the living room in front of the TV with my USA scarf wrapped around my head in various states (a nervous habit I’ve developed).

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    • Interesting, you can do mental gymnastics with the points US need to qualify, and each match scenario, but can’t look at a heat map to see if Sargent has been playing more and more in the midfield Norwich City. MoO, if you look at the heat chart for Musah (Valencia), who plays primarily RM in a 4-4-2, you would notice Sargent’s heat chart matches. Canaries play in a 4-3-3 also. JR was wrong. Suggesting Sargent playing in right midfield quadrant wasn’t a hyperbole. He’s been dropping deeper & covering for Max Aaron for the 3 months. Having Sargent as a CB because he stopped a goal is hyperbole. Sargent started playing winger for Weder Bremen. Tinkering even more, GB went further by wanting him to press. Sargent played RW vs Honduras (WCQ). It’s not GB hate, it’s simple observation backed up by analytics.

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    • i generally agree with your thought process about mexico. i agree US-panama is the most meaningful game. i agree with the historical analysis that traditionally mexico and CR away are tough asks. i think mexico’s table position and home results this cycle bear this out. as such, between the first 2 games, i would do what you suggest, park the bus in mexico with a rotational unit game 1 chasing an extra point, then trot out the starters for panama game 2. but since you never know what’s happening, rotating game 1 “hard” would also have the team fresher for game 3, if necessary. CR is usually a good team and a tough away ask. but this time they are 5th and lost to mexico at home. they also struggle to score at all. as such i would structure the window to leave me the option of playing to win in san jose. to me if we burn the starters on mexico and panama and still need points game 3 then you run the risk of repeating trinidad. you want some gas left in the tank for the last one, and it’s possible points compared to recent cycles.

      fwiw i am not sure his wingback selection reflects parking the bus anywhere. no moore, scally, or vines. he went with robinson backed by bello.

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    • Agreed. Ignore the emotional ties of the game in Mexico. Of the three games, it is the least important. Let Mexico have possession, save energy, prudent subbing. If we grab a point (a feat we’ve only done once in WCQ), that’s an achievement. We’ve never won in Costa Rica, where the conditions at game time will resemble a sauna. So if we get three in the key game against Panama, and need just the point, play the game to get the result we need to pass through.

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