Stejskal: In the USMNT’s Berhalter/Reyna saga, everyone involved faces an uncertain future

This needs to be an thrilling, anticipatory second for the US males’s nationwide group. A younger core of gamers carried out admirably at the World Cup in Qatar and will take a step ahead by 2026, when the US will co-host the event with Canada and Mexico.

But as a substitute of wanting forward in anticipation, we’re caught up in a Shakespearean drama, and the future is uncertain.

For those that want a fast recap: At the World Cup in Qatar, proficient attacker Gio Reyna confirmed an alarming lack of effort in coaching, which pissed off his teammates and coaches and contributed to his lower-than-expected taking part in time at the event. Reyna ultimately apologized to the group and by all accounts, the group moved on.

A number of days after the US’s elimination, head coach Gregg Berhalter detailed the saga at a management convention in New York City. Berhalter’s feedback had been purported to be off the report and he by no means talked about Reyna by title, however they had been however revealed in a publication after the occasion. And for anybody paying consideration, it was clear who he was referring to.

Gio’s dad and mom, Claudio and Danielle Reyna, upset that their son’s unprofessionalism was being aired publicly, referred to as US Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart to voice their anger. Danielle instructed him a few 1991 home violence incident during which Gregg Berhalter kicked his now-wife, Rosalind, after they had been relationship whereas at the University of North Carolina.

“I instructed Earnie that I assumed it was particularly unfair that Gio…was nonetheless being dragged by means of the mud when Gregg had requested for and obtained forgiveness for doing one thing a lot worse at the similar age,” she stated in an announcement.

Stewart then took the allegation to his superiors at US Soccer, who employed an exterior legislation agency to additional examine. And earlier than lengthy, the complete factor grew to become public data.

Heightening all of this was how intertwined all these events are. Gregg Berhalter and Claudio Reyna grew to become mates taking part in underneath Claudio’s father on a youth group in northern New Jersey. They went to highschool collectively and had been teammates with the US at two World Cups. Rosalind Berhalter and Danielle Reyna had been good mates, roommates and soccer teammates at UNC. They stored their households shut over the ensuing 30 years. Stewart, too, has an extended historical past with each households, taking part in with Claudio Reyna at three World Cups and with Gregg Berhalter at one.

Apart from Rosalind Berhalter and Stewart, nearly everyone involved acted shamefully.

The lack of effort was fully inappropriate from the 20-year-old Gio Reyna, whose extended match about not beginning the opener in opposition to Wales was disrespectful to his teammates, coaches and the gamers who narrowly missed out on the last roster.

Speaking about the state of affairs in a room stuffed with strangers was silly by Gregg Berhalter. No matter the floor guidelines of the occasion, a US nationwide group head coach has to know that revealing inside-the-locker-room particulars in any unfamiliar setting might trigger a leak.

It ought to go with out saying that Gregg Berhalter abusing Rosalind was reprehensible. She should all the time carry the trauma of the second; he should dwell with the disgrace of it for the remainder of his life. The data of it ought to play a task in whether or not US Soccer retains Berhalter, who was 18 when he abused Rosalind, as head coach. The ongoing investigation also needs to look into what the federation knew about the incident when Berhalter was first employed in December 2018. At that point, Berhalter’s brother Jay was a high-ranking government at USSF, though Stewart was most instantly accountable for the rent.

The elder Reynas ought to really feel disgrace, as properly. Claudio Reyna admitted in an announcement launched earlier this month that he was texting Stewart and USMNT GM Brian McBride, one other former US teammate of his and Berhalter, about his frustration round Gio’s lack of taking part in time whereas in Qatar. That could be inappropriate conduct for a mother or father of an under-12 participant. For a former USMNT captain and present MLS sporting director whose son was then at the World Cup, it was extraordinarily unprecedented.

Those sorts of actions appear to be a part of a sample for Reyna, who, as first reported by Fox Sports final Thursday and later confirmed by sources to The Athleticbeforehand tried to affect then-US under-17 nationwide group head coach Raphael Wicky relating to his therapy of Gio at the 2019 U-17 World Cup.

Of course, none of that’s practically as unhealthy as Danielle Reyna detailing the incident during which Berhalter kicked Rosalind to Stewart. The situation there is not with the revelation of the abuse, however how Danielle Reyna revealed it: with out Rosalind’s consent.

In her assertion, Danielle didn’t say she instructed Stewart of the abuse out of any concern for Rosalind, her buddy of greater than 30 years. She did not say she instructed Stewart as a result of she felt Gregg was morally incapable of teaching the USMNT. By her personal admission, she naively didn’t even understand that what she stated may immediate an investigation.

It did not appear to matter to her that it wasn’t her story to share. It did not matter that she was as soon as shut mates with Rosalind. It did not even matter that the Berhalters handled the incident, reconciled and appeared to have had an extended, completely happy and fruitful marriage. The solely factor that appeared to matter to Danielle was that Gregg made some feedback about her son’s poor conduct at the World Cup. That was sufficient for her to pull one other household by means of the mud. What she did was spiteful, vindictive and fully out of proportion.

Parts of Danielle’s assertion learn like she feels these in her household are the victims. That’s laughable. The solely victims listed here are Rosalind Berhalter and her youngsters, who’ve needed to dwell by means of this uncomfortable expertise underneath some extremely vibrant lights.

For the others, the subsequent interval might be decisive, as the impartial investigation commissioned by US Soccer continues to be open.

Berhalter needs to remain on as US head coach, and Stewart instructed reporters he is nonetheless being thought-about, however there have been reliable questions even earlier than this drama grew to become public about whether or not he needs to be retained. The 2022 World Cup cycle was a stable however not overwhelming success on the area with some missteps popping up alongside the method.

Players who’ve been requested about the scandal over the final couple of weeks have been usually supportive of Berhalter, however it’s doable, as US legend DaMarcus Beasley talked about on HBO Max’s post-game present following the US ladies’s 4-0 win at New Zealand on Tuesday, that his feedback at the management symposium harm his standing in the locker room. US Soccer might decide that bringing again Berhalter could be too problematic, particularly if the federation goals to be wholly centered on constructing optimistic momentum forward of 2026.

However, real looking alternate options to take over for Berhalter could also be scarce. For one, teaching the USMNT is perhaps a reasonably uninteresting prospect till 2026. As one among the host nations, there isn’t any qualifying on faucet for the US and no assure that the Americans will get into the 2024 Copa America. The solely significant video games for the US males between now and the begin of the subsequent World Cup might be in opposition to regional competitors in the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup. For big-name, world-class managers, these tournaments in all probability will not be all that enticing. And for all we all know, US Soccer, which has paid and continues to pay a mountain of authorized charges thanks to numerous lawsuits and investigations, might not even have the ability to afford the sorts of salaries commanded by the prime managers on the market.

Claudio Reyna’s future may additionally be affected. According to an announcement issued by the federation on Jan. 3, throughout the course of the investigation, USSF “discovered about potential inappropriate conduct in direction of a number of members of our workers by people exterior of our group. We take such conduct critically and have expanded our investigation to incorporate these allegations.” Given his assertion about texting Stewart and McBride and the reporting about his messages about Wicky at the U-17 World Cup, that expanded scope may implicate Reyna, and will result in repercussions by Austin FC, his employer.

Reyna stated in his assertion that “at no time did I ever threaten anybody, nor would I ever achieve this.” But if the investigation confirms situations of inappropriate conduct by Reyna, Austin ought to critically think about whether or not they need to proceed using him as sporting director.

Befitting the remainder of this story, there’s additionally some interpersonal awkwardness at play in Austin, which is coached by former US worldwide Josh Wolff. The two-time World Cup veteran got here to the membership after spending six years as Berhalter’s prime lieutenant, first with Columbus, then with the USMNT. Additionally, Austin is owned by Anthony Precourt, who employed Berhalter in Columbus in November 2013. That’s a pair of people with deep connections to Berhalter on both aspect of Reyna on the Austin organizational chart.

Austin, for what it is value, has already put far between themselves and Reyna — at the very least quickly. Since Jan. 5, the day after information broke that the Reynas had been involved on this scandal, the membership has not quoted Claudio in both of its two first-team roster-related press releases, as a substitute together with coloration from Wolff or director of participant personnel Sean Rubio. Under regular circumstances, Reyna is quoted in bulletins relating to the roster. A membership spokesperson declined to touch upon the reasoning behind the change when reached on Tuesday.

There are inquiries to be answered for Gio Reyna, too. He’s nonetheless younger and may actually develop from his poor conduct in Qatar, however not giving correct effort at the World Cup is a reasonably vital crimson flag no matter age. Reyna is proficient, however feeling like he deserved to start out for a US group that he did not play a major function for throughout qualifying due to accidents suggests a level of entitlement incommensurate with what he is truly finished on the area. It additionally ignores the capability of fellow wingers Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, who began and carried out properly in entrance of Reyna in Qatar.

His first time again in the US locker room might be a bit uncomfortable, too. It might not find yourself being an situation, however it’s not onerous to think about a few of his teammates him sideways after his mother and pa escalated this drama.

If Reyna responds to this example with humility, by placing his head down and utilizing his substantial presents to earn his place in the group, he’ll be advantageous for each membership and nation. If he does not, it may negatively have an effect on his profession.

More than something, that is an absurd, unhappy method for the US males to shut out one comparatively profitable World Cup cycle and enter into what needs to be an thrilling second for the complete American soccer group. We do not know what is going to come of this insanity, however we do know that what ought to have been a optimistic second has already been indelibly tainted.


Reyna’s mom reported the incident involving Berhalter and his spouse to US Soccer

(Photo: Ercin Erturk/Anadolu Agency by way of Getty Images)


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