In wake of Reyna-Berhalter feud, US Soccer Federation discussing rule to curb parent pressuring

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United States' Gio Reyna arrives for an international friendly soccer match against Germany at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in East Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than 10 months after the Reyna family pressured U.S. Soccer Federation staff to give more playing time to Gio Reyna at the World Cup, the team has not yet adopted rules to prevent similar lobbying.

“That’s something that U.S. Soccer leadership is discussing, and as of now, nothing’s been put in place,” coach Gregg Berhalter said Monday, a day ahead of the Americans' exhibition against Ghana.

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Gio Reyna didn't play in the Americans' World Cup opener against Wales on Nov. 21. The following day, the midfielder's father, former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, sent a text message to then-USSF sporting director Earnie Stewart, according to a report last March for the federation by the firm Alston and Bird.

“What a complete and utter ... joke," Claudio Reyna texted. "Our family is disgusted in case you are wondering. Disgusted at how a coach is allowed to never be challenged and do whatever he wants.”

Claudio Reyna sent a text message to then general manager Brian McBride that read: “Our entire family is disgusted, angry, and done with you guys. Don’t expect nice comments from anyone in our family about US Soccer. I’m being transparent to you not like the political clown show of the federation.”

The report details complaints from the Reyna family dating to 2016.

“Witnesses reported that Mr. Reyna’s past actions involved attempts to influence decisions by U.S. Soccer officials and staff concerning his children on issues ranging from travel arrangements to the impact of on-pitch refereeing decisions,” Alston and Bird wrote.

Gio Reyna, a 20-year-old midfielder, made second-half appearances against England and the Netherlands at the World Cup for a total of 53 minutes.

Coming back from a fractured leg in June, he played the first half of Saturday's 3-1 exhibition loss to Germany in his first appearance under Berhalter since the coach was rehired.

Berhalter says the family feud is in the past. The coach had said during a management conference after the tournament that he nearly sent a player home from Qatar for lack of effort during training, remarks clearly about Reyna.

Claudio Reyna and wife Danielle, a former national team midfielder, contacted the USSF about a three-decades-old domestic violence allegation involving Berhalter and the woman who later became his wife — Danielle's former college roommate.

Berhalter was replaced by a pair of interim coaches and, after Alston and Bird determined he did not improperly withhold information when he was hired in 2018, Berhalter was rehired to resume coaching in September.

A wing midfielder under Berhalter in the past, Reyna played in a central attacking role against Germany, positioned ahead of Yunus Musah and Weston McKennie.

“Gio got into some really good positions in his 45 minutes, made some key passes that led to goalscoring opportunities, and that’s something we want to build on,” Berhalter said.

The 11th-ranked U.S. has played Ghana three times at the World Cup, getting eliminated with losses in the group stage in 2006 and the round of 16 in 2010, then winning 2-1 in 2014 on John Brooks' 86th-minute goal.

The Americans have an automatic berth for the 2026 World Cup as a co-host. The No. 60 Black Stars, who lost to Mexico 2-0 on Saturday, open qualifying next month in a group with the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Madagascar and Mali.


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