Update: Reyna responds
Giovanni Reyna has released a carefully-crafted statement addressing the controversy on Instagram. In it, he acknowledged that he had a poor reaction to being told he would only have a “very limited” role at the World Cup by USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, while also expressing dismay over the fact that the story — in particular “highly fictionalized versions of events” — made their way into the public eye in the first place:
One of the most notable side stories of the US’ World Cup was Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna. Reyna is seen as one of the US’ brightest young stars, worked long and hard to return to fitness and successfully did so. Surely he will be one of the most important players for the US. But Reyna only played about seven minutes during the World Cup group stages.
This baffled US fans.
Criticism for US coach Gregg Berhalter, as it always does, was piling up. What was the point of leaving the young star out of the lineup?
But recently, news has come out that put this omission in a different light. First, Berhalter talked about an unnamed player “not meeting their expectations” to the HOW Institute, specifically referencing how he and the coaching staff even deliberated sending the player home after this unnamed player had already made the trip to Qatar and how the player had to apologize to the leadership group in order to stay at the World Cup. Upon hearing this news, a lot of fans assumed it was Reyna, due to his minutes being so limited.
Just an hour or two later, The Athletic came out with a report that stated that Giovanni Reyna had shown a lack of effort in training and the scrimmage before the World Cup and how Reyna eventually apologize to the team. It doesn’t take a degree in media literacy to read between the lines here. There is little doubt that Reyna was the player Berhalter mentioned.
If that was not enough, journalist Jason McIntyre dropped this bomb that the USMNT held a vote on Reyna and nearly half of the team wanted to send him home:
Here’s the story I alluded to on the herd and talked more about on the podcast. One thing I didn’t reveal yet that isn’t in the story - the vote to send Reyna home was 13 stay, 12 go home— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) December 12, 2022
Sources: US almost sent Reyna home from WC https://t.co/VqLpsLQkLk
So where does that leave the US and Giovanni Reyna? Obviously, the fact that Reyna was nearly kicked out of the squad for his effort is a terrible indictment of his behavior at the World Cup, yet it wasn’t all bad. Berhalter also mentioned how, after the apology, there were no issues with the player. It seems that Reyna’s behavior started to really improve after these issues came to a head. And he may well have been rewarded for this improved behavior.
Despite only playing those seven minutes during the group stage, he got to play 45 minutes in the knockout round loss to the Netherlands. What’s important for the team, the coach and especially the player, is that they put this experience behind them and make sure that the right lessons were learned from that experience, as seemingly happened towards the end of the squad’s World Cup run. If that happens in the long run as well, this whole debacle will only amount to being a tiny hiccup.