Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent5 Minute Read
HARTFORD, Conn. — U.S. men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter indicated midfielder Gio Reyna will see the field in Saturday’s friendly against Germany, adding that the pair’s relationship was “moving forward.”
Saturday’s match at Rentschler Field will be the first with Berhalter and Reyna working together since the public feud involving their two families burst into view earlier this year.
The bad blood stemmed from Berhalter’s handling of Reyna at the 2022 World Cup, Reyna’s response in which he was nearly sent home, Berhalter’s role in revealing the incident and the subsequent disclosure of a decades-old domestic violence allegation to U.S. Soccer by Reyna’s mother, Danielle.
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Berhalter was rehired by U.S. Soccer in June following an investigation, but with Reyna suffering an injury in the final of the Concacaf Nations League against Canada that same month, Saturday’s match is the first opportunity for player and coach to resume their professional relationship. Berhalter said he’s focused on looking ahead.
“We’re moving forward. I’m not really [wanting] to talk too much about the past,” he told reporters Friday. “I think it’s about talking about the future.
“I think Gio’s done a great job, really sharp, really strong. We see his quality, and for us it’s about how do we build him up. [In the] same way, we have other players in the squad. It’s to get the most out of him, to help the team the most and for him to return to [Borussia] Dortmund in really good shape, to keep pushing forward.”
AC Milan attacker Christian Pulisic added the relationship between Berhalter and Reyna has long ceased being an issue.
“That’s old news,” Pulisic said. “I mean, I haven’t even thought of it to be honest. Everything’s going smooth. Gio’s a great player and he’s right back where he left off, so I think everything is going well.”
In terms of where Reyna plays, Berhalter said he has a lot of options. Reyna could play on the wing — where he has featured most often in the past — or he could play attacking midfielder. The absence of injured midfielder Tyler Adams adds to the complexity of the decision.
“[There’s] a lot of things to consider for us,” he said. “It’s interesting just to see over these next three years how these roles can develop, how other guys can potentially step up; Johnny Cardoso, Lennard Maloney who can. So we have options. It’s just about how do we find the right mix to be most effective in the way we want to play.”
Saturday’s match marks a rare opportunity for the U.S. to play against European opposition. The last time the Americans faced a European side in a friendly with its first-choice lineup was against Switzerland in May 2021. The fact that Germany — even in the wake of recent struggles — remains one of the most talented teams in the world adds to the challenge.
“I think it’s a process, and we have to take everything on board,” Berhalter said. “The experience against England in the World Cup and then Netherlands in the World Cup and now Germany, and every opportunity we get to play the elite of international soccer, we need to learn.
“We need to figure it out and tomorrow will be another example of us getting an opportunity and seeing what we take from that game. The team, a ton of talent in their roster at us. It’s a great opportunity.”
Pulisic took time out to recall AC Milan’s wild 1-0 win over Genoa last weekend, in which he scored the eventual game-winner that survived a VAR challenge.
“It’s always difficult waiting for VAR. It’s crazy,” he said. “You always think it’s just going to go against you. Luckily this time it helped me out a little bit. It helps our team. It’s tough waiting there, but what are you going to do?”
The chaos then only increased, with Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan getting sent off, forcing striker Olivier Giroud to go in goal. Giroud ended up making a brave save to preserve the win. When asked if he wanted to go in goal, Pulisic said, “Not really,” but added he would have done so if called upon.
“A few guys ran over and they said, ‘Who’s going to go in goal?’ And I said, ‘I’ll do it. I’m happy to do it if that’s what it takes,'” he recalled. “But then once Olivier obviously said he would do it and I think the goalkeeper coach agreed he was safer. He is a little bigger, but I think I would’ve been OK. But [Giroud] went in and did a great job, so I was very happy with that.”
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