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Was Reyna almost sent home from 2022 World Cup by USMNT? Berhalter reveals he considered cutting one underperforming star

11:01 GMT+3 12/12/2022
Giovanni Reyna USMNT United States 2022
Gregg Berhalter has revealed that he came close to sending one USMNT star home from the 2022 World Cup, amid suggestions that player was Gio Reyna.
  • Dortmund playmaker has struggled with injuries
  • Saw limited game time at major tournament
  • Coaching team had big decision to make

WHAT HAPPENED? The United States headed to Qatar with an exciting young squad that was expected to take positive steps ahead of co-hosting the 2026 World Cup. They were able to reach the last-16, before coming unstuck against the Netherlands. Now, Berhalter says he almost cut a prominent member of his squad as they struggled to meet expectations on and off the field.

WHAT THEY SAID: With it reported that Borussia Dortmund's Reyna was the player to frustrate the U.S. coaching team, Berhalter has told Charter Works: "Every day you come into the locker room and you're checking the scales to see where guys are at, to see what issues can arise. You always have to be ready to hit issues head-on, using your values as a filter. An example I can give you: In this last World Cup, we had a player that was clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field.

"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.

"But the other thing we said to him was, you're going to have to apologize to the group, but it's going to have to say why you’re apologizing. It's going to have to go deeper than just ‘Guys, I'm sorry.’ And I prepped the leadership group with this. I said, ‘Okay, this guy's going to apologize to you as a group, to the whole team.’ And what was fantastic in this whole thing is that after he apologized, they stood up one by one and said, ‘Listen, it hasn’t been good enough. You haven’t been meeting our expectations of a teammate and we want to see change.’ They really took ownership of that process. And from that day on there were no issues with this player."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Reyna has continued to struggle with injuries at club level in the 2022-23 campaign and was restricted to just 52 minutes of action across two substitute appearances in Qatar – despite plenty suggesting that he should be taking on a more prominent role.

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WHAT NEXT? Reyna has earned 16 caps for his country and, after finding the target on his return to Dortmund in a friendly against Rapid Bucharest, will be hoping to do enough to convince Berhalter – or whoever takes charge of the USMNT heading forward – that he can be relied upon to deliver when it matters most.