Gio Reyna’s behind-the-scenes drama at the 2022 World Cup revealed

Many US soccer fans were dissatisfied and confused by the lack of playing time given to Gio Reyna by US coach Gregg Berhalter during the 2022 World Cup. We now have the reasons for the decision.

Sources told The Athletic that Reyna showed a lack of effort in training ahead of the USMNT’s opening game against Wales, particularly during a clash against Qatari club Al Gharafa SC. Sources described that Reyna walked in scrimmage throughout his season, which caused “significant frustration” within the squad.

After failing to come on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with Wales, Reyna was so frustrated that he threw off his shin pads and made such a sloppy effort during the ensuing training session that DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long pulled him aside for a chat-too.

The situation escalated to the point where Reyna stood up during a video session and apologized to his teammates for his lack of intensity, The Athletic reported. That seemed to end the drama until Berhalter spoke up.

Gregg Berhalter after the USA lost to the Netherlands in the round of 16.
Gregg Berhalter after the USA lost to the Netherlands in the round of 16.

The coach referred to the situation without specifically naming Reyna at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York last Tuesday, although a US Soccer spokesman told The Athletic his comments should be “explicitly confidential.”

“At this last World Cup, we had a player who clearly failed to live up to expectations on and off the field,” Berhalter said in a comment first published in the Charter newsletter. “One of 26 players, so he stood out. As employees, we sat together for hours thinking about what we would do with this player. We were ready to book a plane ticket home, it was that extreme. And it came down to that we’re going to have another conversation with him, and part of the conversation was how we’re going to move from here. There will be no more violations.”

Berhalter added that he and the coaching staff knew the risks of potentially sending Reyna home but said they were ready to do so. Ultimately, Reyna stayed with the team throughout his stay in Qatar.

Gio Reyna during USA's World Cup loss to Netherlands
Gio Reyna during USA’s World Cup loss to Netherlands
Gregg Berhalter comforts Christian Pulisic after the World Cup from the USA.
Gregg Berhalter comforts Christian Pulisic after the World Cup from the USA.
Getty Images

“Gio obviously didn’t have the experience that was hoped for at the World Cup. The situation, relationships and interactions between the parties are far more complicated than what has been reported,” Reyna’s agent Dan Segal said in a statement to The Athletic.

“It is disappointing and disrespectful for certain parties to speak publicly about private team matters, especially when some do so without full knowledge of the facts and others do so in a self-interested manner. At this stage, we believe that turning those associated with the national team against each other is of no use and we do not plan to comment further on the matter.”

There were reports that the team voted 13 votes to stay and 12 to leave on whether or not Reyna should stay in Qatar. However, ESPN’s Taylor Twellman denied that report.

Reyna, 20, played in two of the United States’ four World Cup games, including the knockout round against the Netherlands. Reyna has played 16 games for USA since 2020 when he was named Young Male Footballer of the Year. He has scored four goals in those appearances, most recently against Costa Rica on June 9, 2021.

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