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Gregg Berhalter on Gio Reyna: ‘He can no doubt help this team’


DOHA, Qatar — Gio Reyna’s lack of playing time at the FIFA World Cup has become one of most persistent storylines of the U.S. men’s national team’s run through the tournament, and even though the team navigated the group stage with an unbeaten record, Reyna’s limited minutes have still been surprising to see.

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter addressed Reyna’s involvement in the World Cup, citing the game situations in the group stage with playing a big part in why the Borussia Dortmund star has played jus seven minutes at the World Cup.

“I think a lot of it comes down to timing and circumstance,” Berhalter said. “If you look at how the games have unfolded, we’ve had to leave and had to hold on to the lead later in games. The only game that we didn’t have that scenario, we actually put him in to help get the victory. So it’s just how we can use him in the most effective way. “

“Really talented player. and we’re looking for the right moment, but he can no doubt help this team.”

The strong performances by Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah on the wings, coupled with the outstanding form of the USMNT midfield has left Reyna with no way into the starting lineup up to this point, with Brenden Aaronson also ahead of him in the pecking order for playing time.

Reyna was an unused substitute in the USMNT’s dramatic 1-0 victory over Iran, and after the match he wore a somber look on his face despite the team’s qualification for the knockout rounds. He could be seen in video clips of the team’s return to its hotel looking very serious and not taking part in the raucous celebrations.

Reyna looked happier at USMNT training on Thursday.

Reyna’s lone appearance at the World Cup was a seven-minute cameo in the team’s 0-0 draw with England, and after that match he admitted that he had not had not spoken with Berhalter about his lack of playing time, or his role at the World Cup.

“No, but I said last time, he doesn’t have to. It’s not his job,” Reyna said after the England draw. “It’s my job to be ready when my number’s called.”

Reyna’s number could be called on Saturday if Christian Pulisic is unable to recover from the pelvic contusion he suffered in the win against Iran, or of the strain of playing three matches in eight days leads Berhalter to sit Tim Weah and insert Reyna.

The other scenario would be to bring Reyna off the bench if the Round of 16 match against the Netherlands is tied, or the Americans are trailing. The USMNT has not trailed at any point in the World Cup, but could be in that position on Saturday against the highly-favored Dutch.


  1. Virgil is a great player, watched him for many years now

    Im interested to see a guy like Gio run at him with that chopping cutting style of his; Virgil mazing but since the knee thing not quite the same agility in all the spaces

    • Interesting, but I call mind games. It’s good news either way though. Either there really is a flu problem, or, LVG acknowledges that the US has a mindset and playing style that he feels the need to neutralize. Pumped for tomorrow.

    • I went back and watched their Senegal game and they’re a 352 team that seems to chase goals either over the top kickball or hit a long outlet wide then cross in late for a header. So you need good wing defense and then good aerial CBs. I’d play them 442 and let them try to get the single wing past 2 layers of defense, then counter. It would be fewer central players but 95% of their offense seemed to be get it wide whack it in so I’m not sure how much we need 3 CM. 2 F gets you around your 9 issue. You put the wide Fs in as the dual strikers (Weah, Pulisic) or try Reyna up high.

      They looked beatable to me. The danger to me is they win some headers in the box or beat us for speed over the top. But as long as we don’t revert to the GB System TM 433 we should have a good chance.

      • I was thinking of a 3-5-2 with Zimm in there, just for the headers and set pieces. But the 4-4-2 could be better for reasons you’ve covered. Either way, for all CCV can do on the ground, I think Zimm needs to start. Sure, Gakpo or others can beat him on the ground. But the Dutch are so tall, so threatening on set pieces, and so reliant on aerial wing service that IMO Zimm should start.

  2. He will play against the Netherlands if the US is behind or tied. There is extra time. Hard not to start Weah though who has been great.

    • GB’s comment is a tacit acknowledgment it’s a coach’s decision and not fitness or health. GR can play other positions than RF, I have been arguing since the beginning he’s as much or more a central player, as he is often used at BD. The coach apparently prefers Weah — fine — but while subbing in players like Wright and Aaronson wants to pretend the tactical situation just didn’t favor GR. Trash. I get he prefers another RF starting. This does not rule out a sub. This does not rule out starting or subbing him elsewhere. He seems to hint he’s not a fan of his defense. Just be honest and say that. Then we can discuss some of the scrubbier attackers seeing playing time because I guess they have the coach’s defensive stamp of approval.

      Side point 1: appropriately framed like this, this choice should drive insane the snobs who defend him all the time. He will sit the most technical player on the team if he doesn’t think he fits the team defense just so. And Green, etc. won’t even make it.

      Side point 2: I look forward to GR shutting his pie hole up when he does play, hopefully this tournament, perhaps beyond. Personal experience people making stupid decisions like this are making apologies soon enough. I can offer GB a rope ladder for his climb down if he is willing. We need some goals.

      • Mr. V.

        “Just be honest and say that. Then we can discuss some of the scrubbier attackers seeing playing time because I guess they have the coach’s defensive stamp of approval”

        ? What part of coach’s decision do you not understand? The manager is paid to make that choice not debate with you over the merits of his choice.

        The team has gotten this far and whether it is in spite of Gregg or because of Gregg is irrelevant. Gregg has done a good job but that does not mean he’s a good game day manager. But it’s better to be lucky than good and he still has his finger on the trigger.

        The tournament only gets harder from here but I’ve never seen a World Cup where the field was more wide open and competitive. The USMNT has a real chance to get pretty far.
        Which means more games. Therefore they are going to need something more from their depth because youth and adrenaline can only get you so far and these games have all been very stressful and exhausting.
        The positive to getting this far without a lot of help from Gio and, for that matter, Brenden is that they are both comparatively fresh. Which means they have something substantial in reserve. Was this the plan all along? Who the fuck knows? I doubt it. But when a team is going good sometimes things like this are part of it.

    • Sib: the decision to bench him at the opening whistle will also make it more likely we need a goal later in the game to get a result. Interesting the coach will fiddle with the backline mid tournament (often seen as a no no) to positive effect but won’t mess with 8/9/10 where we have been suboptimal save Musah. I mean the whole point to that rule of thumb is a poor selection or mistake is more likely to cost you further back. OK, try him as a 9. If you think your CF cost you a goal 99% of the time you had other problems.


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