Gregg Berhalter explains Gio Reyna’s absence against Wales

The US men’s national team opened their 2022 World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against Wales, as goals from Tim Weah and Gareth Bale gave each side a point in the Group B standings.

The USMNT opened up the scoring in the first half, after Weah connected with Christian Pulisic to find the back of the net. But the Americans’ dominance stalled in the second 45 as Wales came back. In the end, it was a foul by Walker Zimmerman on Bale in the box that saw the Welsh equalize through a penalty.

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Head coach Gregg Berhalter introduced several players who made little or no contribution to the USMNT during the Concacaf qualifying cycle, or months leading up to the tournament. Jordan Morris, Tim Ream and Josh Sargent all found time on the field, but Gio Reyna was nowhere to be found.

The Borussia Dortmund figure, arguably one of the USMNT’s brightest young talents, remained on the bench throughout the game. Injury rumors began to spread, but Reyna has since confirmed that he is fit.

“[I feel] OK. A little crowded these past few days, Reyna said. “But I played six weeks in a row with Dortmund before … I feel good. I feel really good … I felt ready to go. But it was just [Berhalter’s] decision.”

But Berhalter contradicted the player, citing “tightness in the hamstring” before explaining his decision to bench Reyna.

“We’re building him up,” Berhalter said. “And we think he can play a big role in this tournament. The question is when. And hopefully, on Friday, he will be another step ahead.”

During the game, former U.S. Women’s National Team player Allie Long noted that Reyna was seen “shaking her head” and “putting her hands over his face” while brushing off coaches who tried to comfort him when Berhalter chose to bring Morris into the game.

The USMNT still has two group stage matches ahead of them, against England on Friday, November 25th and Iran on Tuesday, November 29th.

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