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Report: Gio Reyna's Lack of Effort at USMNT Training Resulted in World Cup Benching

Erin WalshDecember 11, 2022

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03:  Giovanni Reyna of USA  during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Visionhaus/Getty Images

Giovanni Reyna was essentially a non-factor for the United States Men's National Team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and it appears his lack of playing time had to do with his effort in training sessions leading up to the tournament.

Sources told The Athletic's Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal that Reyna "showed an alarming lack of effort in training" before the USMNT's World Cup opener against Wales on Nov. 21. Further, Reyna's lack of intensity during a scrimmage against Al Gharafa SC on Nov. 17 "caused significant frustration within the team."

During the United States' scrimmage against the Qatari club, Reyna reportedly was "walking around" while he was on the field. His performance was so poor that it was unclear if he was trying to avoid injury or if he was upset about not being named a starter for the opener against Wales.

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter never subbed in Reyna for the team's match against Wales, a 1-1 draw. After not being put into the game, Reyna threw his shin guards, according to The Athletic, and his lack of effort in training continued heading into the team's second group-stage match against England.

With his effort continuing to be a problem, DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long were among the veterans that spoke to Reyna, per The Athletic. Members of the coaching staff also spoke with Reyna before he apologized to the team.

Berhalter, without naming the player, appeared to discuss the situation regarding Reyna last week, saying that the issue was so bad that the team nearly booked him a flight back to the United States:

"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, 'OK, this guy is 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.

"As a coach, the way you can deal with things most appropriately is going back to your values. Because it's difficult to send a player home. It was going to be a massive controversy. You would have been reading about it for five days straight. But we were prepared to do it, because he wasn't meeting the standards of the group, and the group was prepared to do it as well."

Reyna was subbed in during matches against England and the team's round of 16 match against the Netherlands. He did not play in the USMNT's final group-stage match against Iran. When he was on the field, he wasn't much of a factor for the Americans.

It's important to note that Reyna is just 20 years old and still has plenty of maturing to do. He will likely continue to be part of the USMNT moving forward, and fans will undoubtedly be looking for him to step up during the 2026 World Cup in North America.

Reyna plays his club soccer for Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund. In 10 matches this season, he has made three starts and tallied two goals.