Former USA international Eric Wynalda has sensationally claimed the fallout between the Reyna and Berhalter families is ‘eight or nine months’ old and that Gregg Berhalter had a vendetta against Gio Reyna before the World Cup.
Wynalda, speaking on Hope Solo’s podcast, outlined his theory in detail and said the saga ‘sheds light on an underworld a lot of American soccer fans don’t know exists.’
The 20-year-old Reyna was surprisingly used as a substitute by Berhalter at the World Cup, with the attacker widely expected to be a central figure for the team in Qatar.
Berhalter last week issued a lengthy statement admitting kicking his wife in the legs, 31 years ago, in a drunken row when they were teenagers. He said someone had gone to US Soccer with the information, threating to ‘take me down’. It later emerged that Reyna’s mom, Danielle, had informed US Soccer about the incident.
Eric Wyanalda has detailed his thoughts around the Berhalter-Reyna row to stun soccer
Gio Reyna was surprisingly used as a substitute throughout the USA’s World Cup campaign
Reyna’s parents told US Soccer about Berhalter (left) kicking his wife in a row 31 years ago
Addressing the saga that has cast a shadow over US Soccer, Wyanlda told Hope: ‘The whole thing with the Reynas and Berhalters, as unfortunate as it is, it does shed light on an underworld that a lot of American fans don’t know exists.
‘We talk about the Reynas and their inclusion in this, it’s mainly because they have a sense of entitlement and a sense of access. They felt they had access to the powers that be, that they could make a call and make this go away, That is not the way this process works.
‘What has happened unfortunately with Danielle, her inclusion in this, and her feeling that she needed to say something or to be vindictive – if you are going to mess up my kid’s life I am going to come after you – it’s just, we have learnt one thing: don’t mess with a soccer mom.’
After the tournament, Berhalter spoke about nearly sending a player home from the camp due to his attitude, later revealed to have been Reyna.
He responded with an Instagram statement acknowledging his focus dropped after being told by Berhalter he’d have a minor role in Qatar, and outlining his disappointment ‘that anyone on the US men’s team staff would contribute to continuing coverage of this event’.
Wynalda then said he believes Berhalter had a vendetta against Reyna because his own son, Sebastian, was moved on from Austin FC – where Reyna’s dad Claudio, the ex-USA captain, is a director – after joining the team on loan.
Berhalter (top row, right) and Claudio Reyna (top row, second left)played together for USA
Berhalter’s son Sebastian was once on loan at Austin, where Claudio now works as a director
Berhalter pictured with his wife Rosalind at the World Cup in Qatar back in December
Midfielder Sebastian Berhalter joined Austin in March 2021 but Austin declined the contract option to keep him. He left Austin in November 2021 and was traded to Vancouver Whitecaps in March 2022.
Solo asked Wyanalda if he believed Berhalter had a vendetta against Gio Reyna, to which he said: ‘I do. What I say is has anyone looked into the history of these two families? Ok, they’ve been lifelong friends… but that hasn’t been true for eight or nine months. They have been at odds.
‘The reasoning behind that has been some of the decisions that Claudio has made when it comes to the management of one Sebastian Berhalter who played for Austin and was moved to Vancouver.
‘People need to ask themselves did that have some sort of effect on these two’s relationship. Did that have something to do with these two? The answer is pretty clean. What Gio has gone through, Gio was stripped of the opportunity to help our country for all the wrong reasons. That’s a real problem.
‘When you look at the choices Berhalter made for this team, we can be critical of that but he is the coach. In this particular case, to let the other circumstances creep in to be the determining factor of why he wasn’t able to do his job appropriately, which is to be put the best team on the field to win the game. It’s not what happened and that is when we are allowed to be angry as ex-players.’
US Soccer has hired a legal team to conduct an investigation into what happened with Berhalter’s past and how it impacted the World Cup.
Dnaielle Reyna admitted in a statement to telling US Soccer about Berhalter’s past: ‘I thought it was especially unfair that Gio, who had apologized for acting immaturely about his playing time, was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for and received forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age.
Berhalter admitted after the tournament that a player – later confirmed to be Reyna – was nearly sent home from the camp due to a drop in attitude
Danielle Reyna (left) went to US Soccer with the information about Berhalter’s past
‘Without going into detail, the statements (from the Berhalters) significantly minimize the abuse on the night in question. Rosalind Berhalter was my roommate, teammate and best friend, and I supported her through the trauma that followed.
‘It took a long time for me to forgive and accept Gregg afterward, but I worked hard to give him grace, and ultimately made both of them and their kids a huge part of my family’s life. I would have wanted and expected him to give the same grace to Gio. This is why the current situation is so very hurtful and hard.’
Claudi Reyna added: ‘While in Qatar, I shared my frustrations about my son’s World Cup experience with a number of close friends, Earnie and Brian McBride among them. However, at no time did I ever threaten anyone, nor would I ever do so.’
While Wynalda suggests the fallout between the two stretches back months, the duo had spoken positively about each other in the buildup to Qatar.
In February, Reyna told Grant Wahl: ‘From [Berhalter’s] experiences as a player, he wants to make sure they understand also the collectiveness of playing for the team, which is so important.
‘But just how much he’s excited and proud to be able to see the growth of this game and how these players are playing at such high levels, both domestically and internationally, making his decisions to pick a squad, never mind a starting 11, really difficult.’
Berhalter told the ‘Gab and Juls show’ in June that he saw Gio Reyna play soccer at age 12 or 13 and thought he could make it as a soccer player.
Berhalter’s contract as USA coach has expired and US Soccer was considering whether to extend his deal, and they still could, for another cycle. USA hosts the World Cup in 2026 alongside Mexico and Canada and reached the last-16 in Qataer before losing 3-1 to Holland.
Anthony Hudson will oversee the US camp for the end of January when they play Serbia and Colombia on January 25 and 28 respectively.