United States men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter has still not spoken to Gio Reyna since he has been put in charge of the team he led to the 2022 World Cup.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Berhalter reflected on the World Cup – and the incident with the Reyna family that led to a lengthy investigation into his conduct.
The USMNT coach has expressed regret at comments he made at the HOW Institute about Gio, which led to retaliation from Gio’s parents – Claudio and Danielle Reyna – and a review of a domestic incident between Berhalter and his now-wife in the 1990’s.
Berhalter told the magazine that while he was away from the position, he ‘had calls with almost every player’.
But, as the magazine puts it, ‘the most significant exception is Reyna, with whom Berhalter has still not spoken since the World Cup’.
Gregg Berhalter has still not spoken to Gio Reyna since being hired back to the USMNT
The coach says he has consulted mediation experts to make sure that communication with Gio Reyna is handled ‘in the right way’.
‘It’s not something where you just pick up the phone and say “Hey bud, here’s how it’s going to be.” There’s work to be done,’ Berhalter told Vanity Fair.
Berhalter called the investigation ‘an unfortunate period’ for him and his family, but added that it ‘brought us together and helped us communicate.’
He says that his comments were meant to highlight the USMNT’s ‘great team culture’ but knows that this point may not have come across.
‘The most important thing to me is that players trust the staff, and if this in any way was taken as a betrayal of trust, then of course I regret it because that wasn’t the intention,’ he said.
Berhalter believes that he and Gio will be able to get past this incident, saying that their ‘goals are much bigger than any individual relationship’ while referring to the Borussia Dortmund star as a ‘super talented player who can help this team’.
‘We both want the US to win the World Cup and be very successful,’ Berhalter said of his relationship with Reyna,’ and now it’s figuring out a way to cooperate to do that.’
Berhalter added, ‘We started this process of how to set expectations a little and figure out how we’re going to move forward together.
Berhalter believes that he and Gio Reyna (7) will be able to repair their relationship
‘Some of it will involve him, some of it will involve us, and eventually, hopefully, it leads towards Gio being comfortable in the team, comfortable that he’s being evaluated fairly and coached fairly and held to the same norms and standards as everybody else.’
But when asked about the prospects for his relationship with Claudio and Danielle Reyna – parents who Berhalter considered close friends before their comments lead to the investigation – the coach said ‘I don’t think that’s a subject I’m comfortable talking about.’
Tom Kuldt, the writer of the Vanity Fair piece, said, ‘As we spoke, it was clear that Berhalter is still nursing wounds over the ordeal.’ The Reynas declined to comment on the story for Vanity Fair.
When asked about the lengthy break he had after his contract with US Soccer lapsed, Berhalter said, ‘Mentally, I put myself in a position where if it happened it happened, if it didn’t happen it didn’t happen.
‘There was always a massive place in my heart for [the USMNT] job, and it was always going to be a dream opportunity, but at a certain stage I think you disassociate a little bit.’
But after the investigation cleared Berhalter of any further wrongdoing, his name re-surfaced in the conversation to return to being manager.
That decision was ultimately made by Matt Crocker – who was hired as sporting director back in April.
He said that he ‘mentally put myself in a position’ to accept either outcome with the USA job
“Obviously, Gregg wanted to be considered in that process and we did the same due diligence as we do for all candidates,” Crocker said.
‘I’m sure people went, “Oh, he’s done the job before. Where’s the new name?” Crocker said. ‘The most important thing to me is that I stuck to the process. Would there have been a better external noise around the appointment of a so-called “name within the game?” Probably.
‘My job is to have a due diligence process, and that we stick to that process. In the end, whoever is the best candidate gets the job.’
Crocker’s long and complicated process – where candidates were subject to multiple kinds of tests of their capabilities – was, by his own admission, based around what Berhalter brought to the table.
Add to that the multiple public endorsements from players like Christian Pulisic, and it seemed to US Soccer that bringing Berhalter back was a palatable choice.
MORE TO FOLLOW.