The mysterious lack of playing time for Giovanni Reyna was one of the major talking points before and after the United States men’s national team was knocked out of the 2022 World Cup.
Just over a week after the USMNT lost to the Netherlands in the round of 16, it’s been revealed that the Borussia Dortmund midfielder was nearly sent home during the tournament due to his alarming training performances, sources told The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal.
The 20-year-old reportedly showed a lack of effort as the United States trained for its World Cup opening game against Wales in November. His perceived disinterest continued in a pre-tournament scrimmage when Reyna was reported to have walked around for the majority of his time on the field.
U.S. teammates, including DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long, addressed their concerns with Reyna after his disinterested body language continued in a post-Wales training session, The Athletic added. His teammates urged Reyna to change his attitude and involve himself more moving forward.
Reyna eventually addressed the situation during a video session when he apologized to teammates and coaches for his actions. The issue was thought to be resolved within the team after the apology, and Reyna returned to training as normal.
Gregg Berhalter seemingly referenced the situation during his appearance at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York last Tuesday.
“In this last World Cup, we had a player that was clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field,” the USMNT head coach said. “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.
“As a coach, the way you can deal with things most appropriately is going back to your values. Because it’s difficult to send a player home. It was going to be a massive controversy. You would have been reading about it for five days straight. But we were prepared to do it because he wasn’t meeting the standards of the group, and the group was prepared to do it as well.”
Reyna’s agent told The Athletic it was “disappointing” that the situation has been made public.
“Gio obviously did not have the experience anyone hoped for at the World Cup,” agent Dan Segal said. “The situation, relationships, and interactions among parties are far more complicated than what has been reported.
“It is disappointing and disrespectful for certain parties to be commenting on private team matters publicly, especially when some do so without full knowledge of the facts and others do so in a self-serving manner.”
Reyna finished the 2022 World Cup with two substitute appearances against England in the group stage and the Netherlands in the round of 16. The attacking midfielder has two goals in 10 Bundesliga games for Borussia Dortmund this season.