AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File
USMNT and Dortmund midfielder Gio Reyna said he’s been assured by United States Soccer Federation technical director Matt Crocker that he will have an important role on the national side for the foreseeable future despite the decision to retain head coach Gregg Berhalter.
Reyna relayed the remarks to ESPN’s Derek Rae (h/t ESPN News Services).
“I spoke with Matt Crocker in Las Vegas after the Mexico game,” Reyna told ESPN’s Derek Rae. “He said I will have an important role in the program for many years going forward.
“My job is to keep improving on the field and to help the team win.”
Reyna played only 53 minutes over two matches (no starts) during the United States’ four-game World Cup outing with Berhalter, who oversaw the team from December 2018 through December 2022.
Berhalter’s contract expired after 2022, and he was replaced by interim head coaches Anthony Hudson and then B.J. Callaghan. However, Berhalter was brought back as the team’s leader in June.
The Reynas and Berhalters clashed after the 20-year-old was effectively benched during the World Cup. The Reynas reported a 1992 domestic violence allegation against Berhalter to U.S. Soccer, as Becky Sullivan of NPR noted:
“Berhalter’s bid to renew his contract as head coach had been put on pause late last year, when allegations surfaced of a domestic violence incident between him and his now-wife, Rosalind, when they were both freshmen at the University of North Carolina in the early 1990s.
“After learning of the allegation in December, U.S. Soccer hired the law firm Alston & Bird to conduct an independent investigation. The investigation later expanded to include “potential inappropriate behavior” toward federation officials and staff in connection with the original allegation.
U.S. Soccer released a report that stated Berhalter’s actions were “unlawful and improper,” but they did “not prevent an employer from employing” him because it happened 26 years before his hire.
U.S. Soccer officials also stated that they thought the allegation came to light from the Reynas so the federation could be persuaded against hiring Berhalter, who had stated at a leadership conference after the World Cup that he considered sending a player home. He did not name the player at the time, but it was later revealed to be Reyna.
As it stands now, Berhalter seems committed to making the relationship with Reyna work.
“I’d certainly acknowledge that there’s work to do, and Gio is an important player to this team,” Berhalter said at a news conference in June, per ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle. “He’s an extremely talented individual, and I have the obligation and the commitment to coach him like I coach every other player, and I want to get the best out of him.
“We want to get the best out of him, and we know that if we can unlock his talents, he’s going to be a game changer for this program. So there’s work to do, and part of it is working together with [sporting director] Matt [Crocker] and trying to rebuild a relationship that we know will be important moving forward.”
Reyna, who scored seven goals for Dortmund last year, has made four appearances (all starts) for the national team in 2023, registering two assists in 256 minutes of action.