At the start of the 2022 World Cup, Gio Reyna was one of the most talked about players. Not only among those representing the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT), but also at the tournament. So it really came as a surprise to many that the 20-year-old would only play a total of 52 minutes in Qatar despite being fit, raising doubts about his exclusion.
After the tournament, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter spoke at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York about an unnamed player he said had binding issues. “In this last World Cup, we had a player who clearly fell short of expectations, both on and off the field,” said Berhalter. “One of 26 players, so it stood out. As staff, we sat together for hours to discuss what we were going to do with this player. We were ready to book a plane ticket home, it was that extreme. And the bottom line was we were going to have another conversation with him, and part of the conversation was how we were going to act from now on. There will be no more violations.”
According to The Athletic, that player was indeed the star of Borussia Dortmund. The drama around Reyna would mount after he threw his shin guards when he was not subbed on during the USA-Wales Group B match. Reports further suggest that during the training session that followed, Reyna willingly made no effort.
In the game that followed against England, Reyna would only be used as a substitute for seven minutes. The situation became intolerable and had to be addressed several times, including with the coaching staff, until finally Reyna stood up for a video session and apologized to his teammates for his initial lack of intensity and said he understood he was part of a collective. group. Following the apology, several players on the team spoke out to hold Reyna accountable for his actions.
Coach Berhalter told the story at the New York summit without naming the player. to apologize. It’s going to have to go deeper than just, “Guys, I’m sorry.” And I prepared the leadership group with this. I said, ‘Okay, this guy is going to apologize to you as a group, to the whole team.’ And what’s great about this whole thing is that after he apologized, one by one they stood up and said, ‘Listen, it hasn’t been good enough. You don’t meet our expectations of a teammate and we want to see a change.” They really took responsibility for that process. And from that day on, there were no more problems with this player.”