United States Men’s National Team legend and media analyst Eric Wynalda has suggested a ‘rift’ with head coach Gregg Berhalter is the reason Giovanni Reyna is being left on the bench.
Reyna is arguably the most talented player of this emerging generation of Americans, with the Borussia Dortmund man possessing incredible creative and goalscoring abilities at just 19-years-old.
Many had Reyna as the first name on the USMNT‘s teamsheet heading into the World Cup but, up to now, he has only seen seven minutes of action, coming on as a late substitute against England on Friday having been left out of the 1-1 draw against Wales.
After Monday’s stalemate to open the US’ Group B campaign, Berhalter told reporters that Reyna was feeling some ‘tightness’ and, so, wasn’t risked against the Welsh. The player himself had a very different take, insisting he was fully fit and eager to play.
Speaking in a Twitter Space hosted by the LA Times following Friday’s goalless draw with England, Wynalda hinted at a conflict between coach and player regarding the narrative surrounding Reyna’s fitness, while also revealing just how much the teenager’s USMNT teammates want him on the field.
“Gio Reyna is out of the lineup right now, which has been a massive controversy within the team. Even his own teammates are wanting him on the field and it seems to be some internal strife with the manager, Gregg Berhalter,” Wynalda said.
“I don’t know how much I should comment on that but I’ve been trying to console Gio’s father, Claudio, for the last couple of hours and days with everything going on.”
On the contrasting comments regarding Reyna’s fitness, Wynalda added: “He was fit to play [against Wales]. Berhalter did lie to the media and say that it was an injury. He asked the player to go along with that story, which caused a rift between the two of them and now he’s on the bench, which is really unfortunate. This situation should have been handled very differently.”
If Wynalda’s revelations are correct, the conflict only leaves the USMNT in a weakened position, unable or unwilling to rely on a player who could make all the difference in their must-win clash against Iran on Tuesday.
If the Stars and Stripes win, they’re into the last 16. Anything less and they’ll be on the plane home without a single victory from their World Cup return.
All of that said, a 90min source close to the USMNT camp has played down Wynada’s claim.
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