Alexi Lalas says Gio Reyna ‘shouldn’t be punished for his parents’ as angry USMNT fans call him a ‘baby’ and ask ‘how can he show his face’ with USMNT before his first USA game since World Cup scandal this week
Alexi Lalas insists Gio Reyna will have been forgiven for his World Cup tantrum by his USMNT teammates as he prepares to play for his country for the first time since a scandal that has rocked soccer in America.
After being told he wasn’t getting a key role with the team in Qatar, Reyna admitted his focus in training dropped and then-coach Gregg Berhalter later revealed he nearly sent the Borussia Dortmund star home from Qatar.
It sparked an angry reaction from his parents, former USA international Claudio and wife Danielle, who were friends of Berhalter. Danielle informed US Soccer that Berhalter, as a teenager, kicked his now-wife Rosalind in a drunken row when they were teenagers in the 90s.
US Soccer hired a law firm to investigate what happened at the World Cup and what was known about Berhalter’s past and earlier in March, the probe concluded it was a one-off incident. Berhalter’s contract as USA coach expired after the World Cup and while he remains a candidate to take the job again, Anthony Hudson is currently coaching the team on an interim basis.
On Friday, Hudson leads a USA squad against Grenada in the Nations League with Reyna back in the setup and the center of attention.
Gio Reyna is set to return for the USA team this week after controversy at the World Cup
Ex-USA player Alexi Lalas has defended Reyna from criticism by USA soccer supporters
Lalas said that Reyna shouldn’t be punished because of how his parents have behaved
But former USA international Lalas insists his teammates will leave what has happened in the past.
Replying to a fan on Twitter asking him how Reyna can ‘show his face’ with USMNT after the Berhalter fallout, Lalas said: Stop. Gio Reyna’s behavior during World Cup was dealt with at the time by the team. He shouldn’t be punished for the actions of his parents.
‘He’s still a talented young player with great #USMNT potential. I hope he can put this behind him, play well, and we can all move forward.’
Then, in response to a fan who said Reyna went ‘full on baby mode’ at the World Cup in Qatar, Lalas wrote: ‘You’d be surprised how much players can ignore, rationalize, and compartmentalize the behavior/personality of teammates.
‘You don’t have to necessarily like, respect, or even care about your teammates. You just have to believe they can help you win. It’s a beautiful ruthlessness.’
And Lalas, who played 96 times for the USA in the 90s, appears to be right if Reyna’s USA teammate Tim Ream is anything to go by.
Speaking to the media earlier this week about the 20-year-old Reyna, he said: ‘The biggest thing is making sure that everybody knows we’re here for a reason and what’s happened with Gio in the past is in the past and what happened at the World Cup happened at the World Cup and we moved on from that as players.
‘I think the biggest thing for us as a leadership and all the guys in camp is to see that he’s working hard, training hard, that he’s wanting to be here and up to this point, it’s been nothing but positive.
Lalas added that the USA players will leave what happened with Reyna in the past and move on
Reyna and his parents fell out with Berhalter after he had a limited role in the Qatar World Cup
Tim Ream said Reyna has shown the right attitude as USMNT prepare for upcoming games
‘Having conversations with different guys, everybody knows what he can bring to the table, everybody know how talented he is.
‘And to see him come in here with that attitude and the work rate and the desire to be a part of the group and just get back on level terms with everyone without having to overly address it has been a big positive for all the guys to see.’
After Grenada on Friday, the team returns to the United States and faces El Salvador in Orlando on Monday.
At club level, Reyna has played eight times for German heavyweight Borussia Dortmund since the World Cup, scoring three goals. He has won 16 caps for USA, with four goals to his name.