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Red-hot Reyna: Troubled USMNT star's response to World Cup chaos has been almost perfect

21:07 GMT 25/01/2023
Reyna DOrtmund celebration 2023
He may have plugged his ears, but the Borussia Dortmund star has clearly heard the chatter, and he seems to be using it as motivation

He did it again. Another late goal, another statement. Gio Reyna, the world hears you loud and clear.

As he celebrated near the corner flag on Wednesday against Mainz, Reyna sent a clear message for the second time in a matter of days. Much like he did after his stunner against Augsburg on Sunday, Reyna plugged his ears in defiance after scoring a late winner, indicating that he wasn't listening to what's been said about him by the outside world.

Ears plugged, eyes closed, Reyna was telling everyone that the noise has officially been blocked out.

It probably isn't true, to be fair. The celebrations are realistically a sign that Reyna has heard the talk, the criticism, and the controversy. It's a clear indication that everything, at least in some way, impacted him. Of course, it did, right? You can't endure all that's gone on over the last few weeks and emerge mentally unscathed.

Reyna, though, clearly isn't being weighed down by his disastrous winter. Instead, the U.S. men's national team star has sent a clear message to anyone that doubted him, reminding the world of the type of player he can be despite all that's gone on.

In his first two games after a World Cup break defined by off-field clashes, emotional outbursts, serious allegations and parental meddling, the 20-year-old American star has re-emerged at Borussia Dortmund with a perfect response to it all. It didn't come through an interview or on social media, but rather on the field, where he has taken his game to a new level while showing the U.S. men's national team a little bit of what they missed in Qatar.

Like at the World Cup, Reyna hasn't been a starter for Dortmund since the Bundesliga returned, having been relegated to the bench in the club's first two matches after the winter break. But the German giants have certainly benefited from all of the chaos that went on stateside in recent weeks, as Reyna has single-handedly delivered two vital wins with late goals.

The first came on Sunday, Reyna's first appearance after a disastrous World Cup. The 20-year-old marked his return with a world-class finish to lead the way in a win over Augsburg. And then, on Wednesday, Reyna repeated the feat, finishing a Sebastian Haller header at the back post to lock up a 2-1 win over Mainz.

Two games and two game-changing goals that have shown that Reyna is more than ready to rise above whatever happened over the winter period.

That doesn't mean this is all over, though. This situation is still very much ongoing. U.S. Soccer is still investigating everything that happened between the Berhalters and the Reynas this winter. Gregg Berhalter's future remains up in the air and all involved will have this controversy attached to them, likely, for the rest of their lives.

All you can do, though, when surrounded by controversy, especially that of you or your family's own making, is stay quiet, put your head down and change the narrative. And, with these goals, Reyna is doing exactly that. For now, the talk will be about just how good of a player Reyna is after the American star served up two clear reminders in back-to-back games.

Make no mistake, though, these goals don't fully vindicate Reyna and they don't bury Berhalter's decision not to play him at the World Cup. The only people that know what happened behind the scenes are those that were in that locker room, and looking back and saying this in-form, motivated, arguably angry version of Reyna is the same player as the one that arrived in Qatar is all conjecture at this point.

Still, it is a sign that Reyna has, perhaps, used all of this as fuel. The hope is that this will all have served as a turning point for a young player, a reality check of just how fickle all of this is.

Perhaps the 2022 World Cup will end up as a footnote of Reyna's career, the moment that forced him to become something new, something better. Maybe in 2026, we'll look back at this as a very, very big speed bump on the way to a memorable World Cup on home soil.

Who knows what's to come? Who knows what else Reyna will be able to do going forward? Who knows what his inevitable USMNT return will look like and, perhaps more importantly, who will be in charge when he does come back?

Those are the keys now: addressing what happens next. What's done is done and it won't be undone anytime soon.

All that matters now is how Reyna responds to it all. This story is no longer about his parents. It's not even about Berhalter, who may or may not have a role with U.S. Soccer going forward. Now, it's all about Reyna, a 20-year-old potential superstar who still has a long career ahead of him.

His celebration may indicate that he doesn't hear the chatter, but Reyna couldn't have dreamt of a more perfect reply to it all.