USA coach Berhalter: ‘Work to do’ on Gio Reyna’s relationship

Jeff CarlisleAmerican football correspondentJune 16, 2023, 6:59 PM ET5 minute reading

Berhalter: I want the best out of Gio Reyna

Gregg Berhalter hopes to forge a strong relationship with Gio Reyna in his return to the USMNT.

LAS VEGAS — Reappointed U.S. national team coach Gregg Berhalter admitted that “there is work to be done” in terms of repairing his relationship with midfielder Gio Reyna.

The relationship between Berhalter and the Reyna family was at the heart of a messy affair that led to Berhalter’s contract being allowed to expire at the end of 2022. When Berhalter officially resumes his position on Friday, one of his most important tasks will be to reconnect with Reyna, who remains one of the most talented players on the American roster.

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“I will certainly recognize that there is work to be done and Gio is an important player for this team,” Berhalter said at a news conference. “He is an extremely talented individual and I have the commitment and the obligation to coach him just like I coach any other player and I want to get the best out of him.

“We want to get the best out of him and we know that if we can unlock his talents, he’s going to be a game changer for this program. So there’s work to be done and part of that is working together with [sporting director] Matt [Crocker] and try to rebuild a relationship that we know will be important going forward.”

Speaking at a management conference after the 2022 World Cup, Berhalter told how he almost sent an unnamed player – later identified as Reyna – home for bad behaviour.

This drew an angry response from Reyna’s parents, Danielle and Claudio, both former US national team players, who informed then-USSF athletic director Earnie Stewart of a domestic violence incident involving Berhalter and his now-wife Rosalind when the two were in college .

An investigation followed, in which the USSF accepted Berhalter’s explanation and the steps he took to make amends, but he was left in limbo as he waited for the USSF to hire a new athletic director and search for a new manager. The leadership position was filled by two interim coaches, first Anthony Hudson and later BJ Callaghan.

Gregg Berhalter was reappointed as the U.S. men’s national team coach through the 2026 World Cup on Friday.Candice Ward/Getty Images

Asked later during Friday’s availability when he would reach out to Reyna, Berhalter said he would give the player some space ahead of Sunday’s Concacaf Nations League final against Canada, as well as let Reyna enjoy his offseason.

“With Gio, I think the most important thing for him right now is to focus on playing in a final and winning the final,” he said. “I can imagine that after that he will have some time off and meeting me is not a priority. It is up to him to rest and prepare for the upcoming season. We will have time to do that. It is a priority, but we will have time to do it before the September window.”

Berhalter added that he had also not spoken to players who were among the final cuts from the World Cup squad, including Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen and Augsburg forward Ricardo Pepi.

“I haven’t talked to them, and like the Gio case, I think there are a number of people you want to talk to,” Berhalter said. “Ideally what you have is to be aligned with everybody and everything we do is try to be good together and that requires the relationships to be good. It requires the players to be focused on that, we do, and there is certainly time for that in the coming months.”

News of Berhalter’s reappointment through the 2026 World Cup on home soil came after sources told ESPN this week that he was a contender for the managerial job at Mexican giants Club América.

Berhalter confirmed he had talks with the Liga MX team, but it was clear his heart was set on returning as American manager.

“I think it was an exciting opportunity,” he said. “But one thing I told them when I got the date for this interview is that I have to do this interview. I know we have something we’re discussing, but I have to go through with it here because I would regret it for the rest of my life if I never gave myself the opportunity. And so luckily they were accommodating and of course I got the job and now I’m here.”

A twist to Berhalter’s return is that he will not manage the United States at the upcoming Gold Cup, with current interim coach Callaghan continuing in his role.

Crocker stated that there are some strategic points that he and Berhalter will go over, so he did not want Berhalter to jump right back in. These tasks were considered more important than an immediate return to coaching the team.

“It gives myself and Gregg a really good opportunity to spend some time together, work through and put together the framework for the strategy for 2026, which we can then bring back to the staff and the players and start getting their input,” he said. .

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