First, the back story: Reyna is a very skilled but frequently injured player for Borussia Dortmund. He suffered a hamstring injury in the first 14 World Cup qualifiers in September 2021, missed the Bundesliga for several months and did not return to the United States until the last three games.
Slowness and fear continued to hamper his progress, but as the World Cup approached, Reyna stepped up his pace with Dortmund and seemed to be on track for a crucial time in Qatar.
From the archive: Gio Reyna happy and healthy. That is good news for USMNT.
However, in the opening game against Wales, Reyna not only did not start, he was not among the five substitutes in the second half.
Berhalter said Reyna suffered a concussion in a clash with a local club four days ago and so he decided to proceed with caution.
Berhalter later said he did not rule out using Reyna, but cited the “nature of the game” and chose Jordan Morris instead for “speed and power”.
Reyna acknowledged the problem but also said she “really felt 100 percent.”
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Looking ahead to the next game, Berhalter said he could “imagine [Reyna] Play some role against England. ” The role was small: Reyna came on in the 83rd minute of a 0-0 draw that the American first-half holders of – and then some – against title contenders.
Then Wynalda cried. Former team-mate Berhalter and elder Reyna Wynalda claimed during a Twitter Spaces conversation that Berhalter lied about the injury and asked players to continue with the story. He also suggested Reyna’s lack of playing time caused friction in the team.
Berhalter replied, ‘That’s not me. That is not what I represent. “So if you have to accept my words or Eric’s words, be free, but I know what happens.”
A day later, Wynalda apologized and said, “I wish I could get it back.”
Against Iran on Tuesday, Berhalter started Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah on the wing – Reyna’s main position – for the third straight game. Brenden Aaronson was the first substitute when Pulisic was injured while scoring and could not continue after the break. Taking a 1-0 lead, Berhalter replaced, giving priority to a non-Reyna defense.
Berhalter stuck with a core team: he introduced a newcomer after the first game and made two changes after the second. Only four players made multiple appearances as runners-up. The Americans are strong and consistent overall, even though they have scored just two goals.
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Pulisic Saturday’s situation against the Netherlands in the round of 16 is day-to-day. Aaronson is likely to remain the first choice that will keep Reyna waiting for the wing again.
In qualifying, losing or drawing Will probably change Berhalter’s calculations. American men no longer play for group points and Reyna could be a weapon. Still behind the game, the United States did not need a second-half attack. Reyna was able to provide that lift well.
“I think it depends a lot on the time and the circumstances,” Berhalter said Friday in Qatar. “If you look at how the game unfolded, we took the lead and had to keep the lead later in the game. The only game we did not have that scenario, we really put him to help [try] Win.
So it’s just the way we can use him most effectively. Really talented player. “And we are looking for the right time, but he can not help this team.”