Giovanni Reyna, a midfielder for the United States, nearly missed the World Cup
Giovanni Reyna, a midfielder for the United States, was almost kicked out of the World Cup in Qatar because he didn’t put in enough effort in training and in a pre-tournament game against Al Gharafa SC, a Qatari team on Sunday.
The 20-year-old Reyna did not play a single game for the United States in Qatar, but she did participate in the entire second half of their final match, a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16. Reyna also apologized to the team as a whole, according to the sources.
After US manager Gregg Berhalter spoke on Tuesday at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York, the information was made public. His remarks were subsequently distributed in a pamphlet by Charterworks, in which he said the US “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.”
Berhalter went on to say: “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, ‘OK, this guy’s going to apologize to you as a group, to the whole team.'”
The player was first identified as Reyna by MLSSoccer.com, and The Athletic reported that Reyna was close to being sent home due to his performance in training, which affected his playing time.
Berhalter sent the following statement via text message: “It’s not really important who it was. The important thing is that the group had very clear standards and they were prepared to communicate if the standards weren’t being met. Sometimes that communication leads to positive change and a clear pathway forward.”
Later, Berhalter stated that the presentation was intended to be off-the-record.
Throughout the tournament, Reyna’s playing time—or lack thereof—was the subject of intense scrutiny. He neglected to get on the field against Ridges, with Jordan Morris the last substitute to be utilized by Berhalter in the 1-1 draw. Afterward, Berhalter mentioned “a little bit of tightness” that Reyna experienced following the Al Gharafa scrimmage on the previous Thursday and stated that he believed Morris’ “speed and power” could provide the team with something.
Reyna had suffered a hamstring injury over the previous 14 months, but he assured the media after the Wales game that he was “100 percent.”
“I feel really good. I feel great,” Reyna said. “I feel fine. [Berhalter] doesn’t have to tell me why he didn’t put me in or why he does.”
Coaches and teammates confronted Reyna shortly after, and she eventually apologized.
“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,'” Berhalter said during his speech. “They really took ownership of that process. And from that day on there were no issues with this player.”
In a Twitter Spaces exchange with the Los Angeles Times, former US international Eric Wynalda stated that there was “internal strife,” which raised the temperature surrounding Reyna’s playing time prior to the England match. Later, he stated on his Sirius XM radio show that Berhalter had asked Reyna to lie as well as lie to the media.
Later, Wynalda changed his mind about some of his remarks.
Reyna only made seven appearances in England’s 0-0 draw and Iran’s 1-0 victory as a substitute.