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Gio Reyna shows why he’s worth it with 2 goals against Ghana

No animosity between Gio Reyna and U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter was discernible after the United States’ 4-0 loss to Ghana on Tuesday in Nashville.

Reyna scored two goals in the friendly victory. These goals were the first since June 2021 for Reyna in an American uniform. He scored the first goal of the match in the 10th minute and put the ball in the back of the net again in the 39th minute.

“Gio scored two goals and besides those goals it’s the way he brings players into attack, how he’s able to stay calm with the ball,” Berhalter told reporters after the match. “He gives us that calm and balance that we sometimes need, but then he is decisive in the final passes. For me, that performance was really an indicator of his whole side.”

Gio Reyna #7 of the United States celebrates his goal in the first half against Ghana during an international friendly match at GEODIS Park on October 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Erin Chang/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF

Berhalter’s comments about Reyna’s focus during training sessions stand in stark contrast to how he described Reyna after a disappointing U.S. performance at the 2022 World Cup.

Speaking during what was supposed to be a closed-door session in December, Berhalter criticized an unnamed player for his behavior “on and off the field.” The comments were made public days later and, alongside a report from The Athletic regarding her conduct ahead of the World Cup, Reyna was subjected to public scrutiny.

Gio’s parents, Claudio and Danielle Reyna, became involved in the situation. Longtime friends of Berhalter’s family, the couple appealed to then-U.S. Soccer Federation athletic director Earnie Stewart about their son’s treatment. In doing so, they also shared a domestic violence accusation against Berhalter dating back to his college days.

“As part of that conversation,” Danielle said in a statement reported by the Associated Press, “I told Earnie that I thought it was particularly unfair that Gio, who had apologized for acting in a manner immature regarding his playing time, always being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked and received forgiveness for doing something much worse at the same age.”

The federation has appointed an interim coach while it investigates the matter. Ultimately, the organization released findings that exonerated Berhalter, finding that he was not guilty of withholding information during his hiring process. The investigation detailed the incident between Berhalter and his now-wife, as well as the actions the coach took afterward to respond to his actions. Berhalter returned to his position in June 2023.

Overcoming a public feud with embarrassing details rehashed must be a difficult task. However, Berhalter seems to believe that the team is better because of Reyna.

“He had a very strong camp, great mindset, great workouts. For me, it’s not just what he did on offense,” Berhalter said. “Tonight it’s more about what he does and what he did without the ball. I think it was hard work. We talked about it before the game, hard work on defense, and he l ‘certainly did. It was a good step for us.’