US coach Berhalter: ‘Work to be done’ on relationship with Gio Reyna

LAS VEGAS — United States men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter has admitted “there’s work to be done” to mend his relationship with midfielder Gio Reyna.

Berhalter’s relationship with the Reyna family was at the heart of a messy affair that led to Berhalter’s contract expiring at the end of 2022. With Berhalter officially returning to his position on Friday, one of his most important duties will be to rebuild the connection with Reyna, who remains one of the most talented players on the American roster.

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“I would certainly recognize that there is work to be done, and Gio is an important player for this team,” Berhalter told a press conference. “He’s an extremely talented individual, and I have an obligation and a commitment to train him like I train all the other players, and I want to get the best out of him.

“We want to get the best out of him, and we know that if we can unleash his talents, he’s going to be a game-changer for this program. So there’s work to be done, and part of that is working with [sporting director] Mast [Crocker] and trying to rebuild a relationship that we know will be important moving forward.”

Speaking at a leadership conference after the 2022 World Cup, Berhalter recounted how he nearly sent an anonymous player – later identified as Reyna – home for bad behavior.

This prompted an angry reaction from Reyna’s parents, Danielle and Claudio, both former United States internationals, who informed then USSF athletic director Earnie Stewart of a domestic violence incident involving Berhalter and his now wife Rosalind when the two were in college.

An investigation ensued, with the USSF accepting Berhalter’s explanations and the steps he took to make amends, but he was left in limbo waiting for the USSF to hire a new athletic director and search for a new manager. . The managerial position was filled by two interim coaches, first Anthony Hudson and later BJ Callaghan.

When asked later during Friday’s availability when he would contact Reyna, Berhalter said he would give the player some space ahead of Sunday’s Concacaf Nations League final against Canada, while by letting Reyna enjoy her offseason.

“With Gio, I think the most important thing for him right now is to focus on playing a final and winning the final,” he said. “I can imagine that after this he wants a vacation and meeting me is not the priority. It’s up to him to rest and prepare for the coming season. We will have time to do that. C It’s a priority, but we’ll have time to do it before the September window.”

Berhalter added that he also did not speak with players who were among the latest World Cup squad cuts, including Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen and Augsburg striker Ricardo Pepi.

“I haven’t spoken to them and like in Gio’s case, I think there are a number of people you want to talk to,” Berhalter said. “Ideally what you have is alignment with everyone, and all we do is try to be good together and you have to have a good relationship. You have to have the players focus on what we’re doing and there’s certainly time for that in the months ahead.”

News of Berhalter’s reappointment until the 2026 World Cup on home soil came after sources told ESPN this week that he was a candidate for the managerial job of Mexican giants Club América.

Berhalter confirmed he held talks with the Liga MX side but it was clear his heart was set on returning as USA manager.

“I think it was an intriguing possibility,” he said. “But one thing I told them when I got the date for this interview is that I have to do this interview. I know we have something we’re discussing but I have to go through it because I would regret it the rest of my life if i never gave myself the opportunity.and luckily they were accommodating and i obviously got the job and now i’m here.

A twist to Berhalter’s return is that he will not lead the United States in the next Gold Cup, with current interim coach Callaghan continuing in his role.

Crocker said there were strategic items that he and Berhalter would go over, and therefore he didn’t want Berhalter to come back just yet. These tasks were seen as more important than an immediate return to team training.

“It gives me and Gregg a really great opportunity to spend some real time together and work and piece together the framework for that strategy for 2026 which we can then bring back to staff and players and start getting their contribution,” he said. .

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