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Berhalter comments shed light on Gio Reyna World Cup situation

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Gio Reyna’s limited playing time for the U.S. men’s national team was one of the biggest storylines of the tournament, and by the time the team was eliminated from the competition nine days ago, it was believed Reyna was simply the victim of circumstance and the good form of other players.

Now we know a bit more, with Gregg Berhalter apparently inadvertently placing a spotlight on the situation with details that had remained hidden until now.

Berhalter spoke at the the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York on December 6, just three days after the USMNT’s elimination from the World Cup in a loss to the Netherlands. In the discussion, which was reportedly supposed to be a private and off the record, Berhalter revealed that there was a USMNT World Cup player who was nearly sent home due to a lack of effort in training. Multiple reports, including reports by The Athletic and ESPN, have since emerged identifying Reyna as the player.

“In this last World Cup, we had a player that was clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field,” Berhalter said at the Summit, in comments that were revealed in a Charterworks newsletter. “One of 26 players, so it stood out. As a staff, we sat together for hours deliberating what we were going to do with this player. We were ready to book a plane ticket home, that’s how extreme it was.

“And what it came down to was, we’re going to have one more conversation with him, and part of the conversation was how we’re going to behave from here out. There aren’t going to be any more infractions.”

Berhalter also revealed that the player apologized to his teammates for his actions and behavior, with the Borussia Dortmund star seeming to settle in after the apology, with the team putting the situation in the rearview mirror.

“What was fantastic in this whole thing is that after he apologized, they stood up one by one and said, ‘Listen, it hasn’t been good enough, You haven’t been meeting our expectations of a teammate and we want to see change,” Berhalter said. “They really took ownership of that process. And from that day on there were no issues with this player.”

Berhalter drew plenty of criticism for Reyna’s lack of playing time at the World Cup, and appeared to offer conflicting statements on why the young standout didn’t play in the USMNT’s World Cup opener against Wales. Initially, Berhalter noted that Reyna had suffered some muscle tightness following a training match prior to the World Cup opener, and said he felt it was “too soon” to bring him back.

Reyna insisted following the Wales match that he was “100 percent”, though he also cited having experienced some muscle tightness. Berhalter eventually clarified his stance on Reyna’s absence from the Wales opener by saying it was not due to any injury and that he had been available to play.

The Reyna situation generated even more interest following comments made by former USMNT star Eric Wynalda claiming Berhalter had lied about Reyna’s injury status and had asked Reyna to also lie about his injury status. Wynalda eventually walked back those statements, but the new revelation of the Reyna situation appears to put at least some context to Wynalda’s initial claims.

Reyna played seven minutes in the 0-0 draw against England, and after failing to appear in the group-stage finale against Iran, Reyna was brought on at halftime of the USMNT’s Round of 16 loss to the Netherlands, with the Americans losing 2-0.

Comments

  1. If you don’t like GB just say so, because some of us aren’t making any sense. The same people who claim to be upset with GB for speaking to the press after the WC about Gio’s situation had no problem with Jermaine Jones sharing a private conversation amongst 2 men all those years ago. That was a conversation between 2 men that got out. The conversation with fans was more about JMo’s dog, then it was about the betrayal of trust that was broken by a 30 year old to a 20 something. These same people complain about GB selections but then want players with poor attitudes, who don’t play (Hoppe, Konrad, & Brooks) or players who aren’t ready, (Sargent, Busio, or Scally). GB brought Arriola back one match after a ACL injury, a month after he said his selections were about form. I’m very aware of GBs contradictions, I stop listening to his press conferences 3 years ago. Some of us look at where we think these young players will be in ‘26, and not where they are now, in their physical or mental maturity. Blaming the coach and not the player for putting himself in the situation is definitely biased thinking. I could’ve read the definition of scapegoating, then again intelligent people say it’s GBs fault. He lost the locker room by letting the players vote on whether Gio should stay with the team during the WC?! What?!!!

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  2. I really think we need universal service. When I was in my 20’s I had to go into the service because of the draft. I had to work with a lot of people I didn’t like. I often doubted the utility of what we were doing. But you know what? I had too much self respect and sense of responsibility that I always did my best. I’ve never been handed anything in life. People who think they are entitled don’t deserve any respect and no rewards except what they have earned.

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    • and a lot of the blame can be placed squarely on many in the fan base who prop up certain players bc of the clubs they play for, when said players haven’t done squat yet to be heaped so much praise. We have a lot of young talented players no doubt, but until these players become indispensable to their clubs, and are relied upon to affect the outcome of games we need to let them continue to grow and develop, and chill on the over hype because the players read these posts on twitter and IG boosting their already built in ego’s.

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  3. A coach who has been criticized for not playing a certain player and tried to protect that player’s reputation makes an off the record comment about a player he doesn’t name and who he protected by not throwing him under the bus publicly by name while everything happened and even gave him a chance to stay and redeem himself.

    Yeah GB is a m****r f*****r…

    Smh. You people just have your biases and can’t see the past them.

    PS: I wanted Gio on the pitch as much as everyone and am still disappointed he wasn’t. But this suggests an ego that needed to be put in check.

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  4. Have to say that Berhalter knows he doesn’t want to continue as USMNT head coach. No reason to air this out. He just lost the locker room going forward. Never air out disagreements in the locker room to the media. Coaching 101.

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    • Yeah, that’s pretty basic. You have to think this explanation was aimed at a prospective next employer for Gregg, which shows he’s got rabbit ears up about the criticism he faced for some of his roster moves and substitutions…especially in regards to Reyna.

      It definitely isn’t going to go over well with the USMNT locker room and probably not with US Soccer either. Stuff in-house needs to stay…in-house. I doubt very much Earnie Stewart will like it. Trust is such a fragile thing…and loose lips are one of the fastest ways to lose it.

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      • Quozzel

        “You have to think this explanation was aimed at a prospective next employer for Gregg, which shows he’s got rabbit ears up about the criticism he faced for some of his roster moves and substitutions…especially in regards to Reyna.”

        In your job interview, conventional wisdom is you don’t talk smack about your previous employers or employees.

        If I’m Bayern Munich, Paris St. Germain or Real Madrid I’m not attracted to Gregg’s seeming difficulties working with diva behavior.

        Managers are paid to get the best out of all the players, divas included. However bad you all think Gio was, there are worse players out there.

        And Gregg got nothing out of Gio. What a waste.

    • And I don’t blame him, he got out in front of this thing because he had been hearing nothing but people questioning him and his style of coaching not just in Qatar but since his hire. Greg has done plenty wrong since his hire no question, but he got the disciplinary actions of this situation right…..Berhalter will have some good opportunities to coach a club team domestically and abroad, and there have been rumors he wants to get back to the day to day of club managing and seemingly this conversation at the leadership conference was him putting one step out of the door in continuing with the NT

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      • “he had been hearing nothing but people questioning him and his style of coaching not just in Qatar but since his hire. Greg has done plenty wrong since his hire no question, but he got the disciplinary actions of this situation right….”

        If he wants to continue his managerial career, he needs to learn how not to be a snowflake. He did a good job under the circumstances but that meant he did just enough to get by and the majority of the criticism of him proved to be accurate. Just for one example, he brought a lot of deadwood to Qatar , deadwood that could have been pruned if Gregg had managed his player pool better.

        It’s all on Gregg. If he doesn’t want to be criticized he should manage teams better.

  5. I thought when Reyna was on the field even against the Netherlands that he did not seem all that interested in it. I think GB was being generous when he essentially said that after the team meeting, everything with Reyna was OK. It reminded me of how he had played in his last few games for Dortmund, by simply not doing the hard work.

    Reyna is a young kid who has been told most of his life how special he is. Apparently he has not yet internalized the fact that to be truly great requires a lot of work all the time.

    We all hope as he matures that this seeming petulance is replaced with real effort.

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    • Dennis,

      “I thought when Reyna was on the field even against the Netherlands that he did not seem all that interested in it. ”

      I thought the entire team did not seem all that interested. Most of all, the abysmal defensive errors are what gave me that impression.

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  6. “HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT FAILS TO WORK HARD”!!!
    What? I think the praises and the fan base have gone to his head. Who does Gio think he is…….Ronaldo??? lol. GB did good to keep him off the field with that kind of attitude / behavior, especially when its coming from a young player who should be all about teamwork, hustle and high work rate. Sometimes people just take it for granted when they are called into the USMNT, and think they are bigger than the team itself (cough…Freddy Adu….cough).
    I think the problem is the instant recognition of a few players, based on where they play and not really on what they have done, and this develops into instant entitlement……..Yes, Gio is talented and yes, he has potential but what has he REALLY done to give him that sense of entitlement?
    Technical Quality, minimal turnover, solid teamwork, high work rate and a good / decent Soccer IQ is all that is asked from a USMNT player, so if you cannot commit to that 100% (as even a 100% is not enough to beat elite teams) while being proud to put on that uniform, ready to give it absolutely all you’ve got, while completely being there for your teammates, then maybe it was wise of GB to have that discussion of putting this individual on a plane and sent home.
    “Gio, you can have all the talent in the world but if you do not put in the hard work, commitment and dedication necessary to be a professional, then maybe some growing up is needed and you are not ready YET for the USMNT kid….”

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  7. So Gregg now airs the team’s dirty laundry publicly. Unlike Reyna, who did not talk about the controversy publicly , GB is not 20 and should know better. As for the “his comments were supposed to be confidential” line in the story, unlike Reyna who did not talk about the controversy publicly GB is not 20 and should know better.

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    • I am no GB fan, but I can sympathize with him on this one. He’s taken so much brutal criticism over player selection. We were all calling him an idiot for not playing Reyna. It should be out there to be fair to him.

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      • Mr. P,

        “He’s taken so much brutal criticism over player selection…………It should be out there to be fair to him.”

        Ever hear the expression “cutting off you nose to spite your face?”

  8. As an immature person, I can offer this insight: we overestimate our value and lack the self control to keep our mouth shut when we face BS from above in an organization. We dig our own hole and it gets worse, and then we inevitably do or say something we later regret. It’s called “blowing up” in the corporate world. I assume it’s the same in any organization. You don’t really grow out of it. You do a little better over time as you suffer the consequences, but if you natively lack self-control, it doesn’t just grow in. It’s part of the way your brain works.

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  9. GB needs to talk about his own moral leadership. GB has never been transparent about anything. He lies by saying players have not been called into camp because of form but he then calls in his favorites who are out of form; then, when those same players are in form, he states that they do not fit the system; he lied when he said Brooks would be called in in the next window, but always had an excuse for not calling him in; not just Brooks but others as well. Then, he lies about Gio not playing due to suffering some slight muscle injury; then later on states that it was a tactical decision. He lied because he knew that he would be heavily criticized for not starting Gio, so he made up the injury. This is what started this whole beef between him and Gio. Gio already knew he wasn’t going to start vs Wales. Not excusing his behavior if he was not putting effort in the practices, but he is a 19-20 year old kid; of course Gio is going to be angry. Then he says that Gio is a very important part of the team, but puts in Morris. If GB doesn’t rate Gio, who is a creative midfielder, over the other box-to-box guys just say so. GB needs to go elsewhere. GB created this mess and nobody else.

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  10. Hope that speaker opportunity was worth it, coach. Of all the criticism Berhalter received, mostly unwarranted, this was his worst move to date. Can’t imagine anyone on the team will trust him going forward

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    • Actually GB is not really much at fault here. Gio even though he is young needs to take full responsibility for his actions (or inaction as it may be). It seems to me that he has not yet done so.

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      • Dennis,

        “Actually GB is not really much at fault here.”

        Sure he is. He didn’t have to tell anyone about this.

        Unforced error

        Gio took responsibility.

  11. Reyna has always been this way. There was point in the England match where we were counter attacking and he didn’t get the ball. His response was to throw his hands up and jump around in the box like a petulant child. Everyone else put their cleats in the ground and got back. He pouted.

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    • Mr 72,

      If you think Gio “pouting” was some kind of aberrant behavior, you should watch an EPL game or even some of the other World Cup games

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  12. Well then, a little drama for the USMNT.

    1) No doubt that GB is tied to his system – for good or bad. Sometimes his intransigence leads to players not playing – see John Brooks – and now Gio during the WC.

    2) Contrary to WW above, I’m not sure that I saw Gio not willing to work v. Netherlands. I saw Gio being dangerous as new legs and a new player, but he didn’t open up the Dutch so to speak. i also think the goal come after he was subbed on (honestly don’t recall as I add this post), but I think the team played differently once he was on;

    2.b. I don’t think that Reyna caused the Dutch or LVG to change their gameplan.

    3) Other outlets reporting on this stated that the “leadership team” within the club were not happy with “the player’s” effort during a warm-up game and the team (not just GB) was unhappy with Gio. This is contrary to Wynalda’s self-serving report that the team wanted Gio to start, not just play as reported in MSNBC.

    4) I am not excusing GB from airing these grievances, on or off the record. If he was keeping things underwrap during the tournament, they should have stayed off the record. He didn’t tell us crap about Brooks for years during qualification. Why throw a kid under the bus now? We all can infer who he was talking about.

    5) For the record, while this information is newsworthy, I am not pleased that Wynalda reported about this during the WC. He is and has been always self-serving, but this disclosure is completely contrary to his normal mantra to keep things within the team and that we need to rally behind the USMNT. As a reporter, sure he probably had to disclose it; but, as a former MNT player who knows how dissention quickly breeds in a team during a tournament, he knew better and should have kept his mouth shut. I can’t imagine that father Claudio said to his ex-teammate “You need to report this.”

    To the extent that Wynalda had any remaining credibility to me – it is now gone. Can’t believe that Sirius XM brought that guy back.

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  13. We don’t know the whole truth, but, taking this at face value: Good on Berhalter. I don’t like him as a manager for many reasons, hope he loves on, but you can’t have that in a World Cup camp. I also understand Gio is young and may be worried about further injuries impacting his career. So there’s that. Ultimately, we weren’t beating the Dutch or Argentina even with a fully healthy and mature Gio. Better to send the message now, hope Gio pulls his head out of his Netherlands for 2026.

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  14. You could see in Gio’s body language against Netherlands that he was not willing to work. I was so excited to see him come on, that I watched his every movement, as long as he was in the camera’s frame. Not much movement to watch really. He was standing around just below the halfway line. I know that this may have been tactical. But, he made no moves to create passing angles, or poach a lazy pass. I was complaining in real time to my friends. Lets hope we get past this. He is a key player for us going forward as long as he stays healthy.

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    • I’ve been told Gio’s physically not close to 100%, hasn’t been for well over a year, and he’s frustrated as crap and his attitude – which was never great, he’s always been a primadonna – was absolutely terrible at the Qatar camp. Supposedly as he always seems to, he picked up some kind of knock early on in training camp and was just pretty much loafing and dogging his way through practices and scrimmages at a leisurely walking pace, which did not play well with anybody. (I didn’t realize it had gotten so bad he almost got sent home…I mean, like, wow. That’s eyeball-raising, there.)

      Gio is no doubt immensely talented. But his inability to get and stay healthy is a huge problem, and adding a primadonna attitude problem to that…well. Those two strikes in conjunction could bounce him right off the squad for a nice long soul-check if he can’t get it together. You wonder if it may have already.

      Especially if the USMNT remains committed to a pressing 4-3-3, the answer to the question of “where do you play Gio Reyna” could well become “there really isn’t anywhere.” I mean, you need your wingers, your strikers, and your C-Mids to all work in our system…if Gio won’t or physically can’t and has a ‘tude on top of that…I dunno. Is this Gio’s last call-up for awhile? If Gregg’s going public with this, it could well be because Gregg intends to drop him. At barely 20, Gio definitely has the talent to find his way back, but you wonder if it could be awhile, too.

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