Borussia Dortmund winger Gio Reyna has taken aim at USA manager Gregg Berhalter in an Instagram post amid reports he was almost sent home from Qatar.
The US national team finished behind England in Group B, but their one win and two draws were enough to secure them a place in the World Cup knockout stages.
However, Berhalter’s men were sent packing after they suffered a 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands at the Khalifa International Stadium in the last 16.
According to The Athletic, Reyna was spotted “walking around” during one of his team’s training sessions ahead of their Group B opener against Wales.
The publication added that senior players spoke to Reyna about the situation on more than one occasion, with it unclear on why he was acting the way in which he did.
Reyna apologised for his actions to his international teammates, but it appears that Berhalter accidentally put the 20-year-old player on blast in public.
During a speech at the HOW Institute for Society Summit on Moral Leadership in New York, Berhalter opened up on the drama involving one player in his 26-man USA squad.
“[We] had a player [in Qatar] that was clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field,” he said on Tuesday.
“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 added that the player in question had apologised and “really took ownership of that process” and “there were no issues with this player” after that day.
USA manager Gregg Berhalter accidentally alluded to Gio Reyna during his speech at the HOW Institute for Society Summit. Credit: AlamyThe United States head coach, much to his surprise, didn’t realise his comments weren’t off the record and did not want to identify the player he was talking about.
Reyna on Monday took to Instagram and posted a lengthy statement, with the USA star claiming that Berhalter told him his role would be “very limited.”
“I hoped not to comment on matters at the World Cup,” he said.
“It is my belief that things that happen in a team setting ought to remain private.
“That being said, statements have been made that reflect on my professionalism and character, so I feel the need to make a brief statement.
“Just before the World Cup, Coach Berhalter told me that my role at the tournament would be very limited.
“I was devasted [sic]. I am someone who plays with pride and passion. Soccer is my life, and I believe in my abilities.
“I fully expected and desperately wanted to contribute to the play of a talented group as we tried to make a statement at the World Cup.
“I am also a very emotional person, and I fully acknowledge that I let my emotions get the best of me and affect my training and behavior for a few days after learning about my limited role.
“I apologized to my teammates and coach for this, and I was told I was forgiven.
“Thereafter, I shook off my disappointment and gave everything I had on and off the field.
“I am disappointed that there is continuing coverage of this matter (as well as some highly fictionalized versions of events) and extremely surprised that anyone on the U.S. men’s team staff would contribute to it.
“Coach Berhalter has always said that issues that arise with the team will stay “in house” so we can focus on team unity and progress.
“I love my team, I love representing my country, and I am focusing now only on improving and growing as a soccer player and a person.
“I hope that going forward each person involved in U.S. Soccer focuses only on what is in the best interest of the men’s national team so we can enjoy great success at the World Cup in 2026.”
According to The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio, a spokesperson for US Soccer said the summit where Berhalter made his remarks was supposed to be “explicitly off the record.”
Berhalter defended himself over his comments at the summit and insisted that it was not his intention to allude to the identity of the player.
“It’s not really important who it was,” he told ESPN.
“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.”