Perhaps it’s a sign that the USMNT is entering a pivotal moment as they hold the big controversies until after the tournament rather than before. We saw Jürgen Klinsmann keeping Landon Donovan at home in 2014 just to show everyone what an intellectual genius he is. Or when does John Harkes return. Around this time, the incident followed, suggesting that enough people were interested in digging and autopsies.
Last night, it started to drip on Twitter that speaking at a conference, the HOW Institute Ethical Leadership Summit in New York last Tuesday (whatever it is), Gregg Berhalter mentioned a problem facing the United States at the World Cup without naming the player who caused the problem. He mentioned that he has a player who simply doesn’t try in training and is a kid. The coaches even went to the point of deciding to send the aforementioned player home, despite the controversy it might cause. Imagine being fierce at 0, that player’s give-a-shit meter would have to earn that amount with no chance of replacement.
Berhalter and his staff backed that up, giving the player an ultimatum and making him apologize in front of the entire team for his behavior. Which, to be fair, he did, and then he had to sit through the rest of the team basically telling him he was an asshole and that he better corrected. cut back. And that seems to be the end of it.
Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio of The Athletic then break a story the following evening, it was Gio Reyna who put on the damn hat.
As these things tend to happen, it has divided US fans and media into factions and divided cells, with everyone having their own opinion on how to behave. case handling. What’s true for everyone is that it’s different from Berhalter’s handling of Weston McKennie’s breach of team rules in September 2021 during qualifying in Nashville, where McKennie was sent straight home without a chance to apologize to his teammates and save yourself.
However, that was a different time and different circumstances. Firstly, it was at the beginning of the qualifiers, when Berhalter was still establishing a lot of the atmosphere and culture that the USMNT would operate under. It’s like a “Here’s how it’s going to be” maneuvers. Second, September 2021 is still very new or still in the COVID protocols (if we ever get away with it). The fact that McKennie is out searching Nashville for… you know, and bringing whatever he finds back to the hotel puts himself and his teammates at risk. In terms of time and place, it was a greater transgression by Reyna.
And even with all of that, Berhalter went to great lengths to cover Reyna after the Wales game, telling the media he wasn’t playing due to some injury concerns, rather than speaking out. to the world that quite simply, Reyna got rid of him. opportunity through his actions. Reyna of course didn’t let that lie, because Eric Wynalda was talking about internal strife and Berhalter was lying, and he took that from somewhere, as Reyna herself told the press that he is 100%.
At the end of the day, as talented as Reyna is – and he’s probably the most talented player on the USMNT roster – his big mistake is thinking it’s going to cause him to make a huge mistake. It doesn’t for a few reasons. First, Reyna barely appeared during the qualifiers, starting just one game over the course of 14 games. He just hasn’t shown the role in the 11-man starting XI or the chemistry with his teammates to think he deserves a starting spot. Second, he plays in the only positions where America has real depth. Tim Ream can come on from the cold and start all 4 games in the central position, because the US has no one else. But in wide attack points? There’s Pulisic, Weah, and Aaronson. If there’s even a thought of placing Reyna in midfield, it doesn’t seem like he’s in a much better case than Musah or McKennie. If Reyna is a genuine number 9, maybe then he can get away with behaving like a petite child. America will have no choice. He was a sassy kid playing in a position with lots of alternatives. That’s a bad strategy.
There is a vestige in Berhalter’s book that he created the atmosphere for this team that Reyna’s antics didn’t cause much of a ripple for the rest of the team, as it was generally thought everyone was friends, and Reyna’s teammates weren’t afraid to blame him either. We’ve seen things like this tear through teams throughout the tournament before when the managers didn’t get a hold of things like that (we give France 2010 as proof). Especially when this is such a young team. This isn’t a scene where Reyna makes love in front of a bunch of established veterans who’ve accomplished more than he has and can play him off. These are his colleagues, but he doesn’t live up to a certain standard anyway, and the promise of his skill isn’t enough to buy him a free release card.
The lesson for Berhalter in all of this is that nothing beats the record, not today. But it’s hard to see how much damage this can do, if he keeps the job longer. All the other players are with him in this and they will also notice how much Berhalter protected Reyna during the tournament. Maybe talking about it later will raise an eyebrow or two, but that’s dismissable. But again, Berhalter didn’t mention Reyna by name at this panel or anything, and only reporters could dig it up. That is their job.
McKennie recovered from his imprudence, and Berhalter never used or cited it again. So does Reyna, whether it’s under Berhalter or another manager. It’s another example of what Berhalter has done well for this team, and doesn’t change the debate about whether it’s enough to make up for what he hasn’t done well (i.e. management in the game). play or not). This is the game at this level, and the United States is deeply in it right now.