Gio Reyna shows why he is worth the effort with two goals against Ghana

There was no hostility between Gio Reyna and U.S. men’s national team soccer coach Gregg Berhalter after the United States beat Ghana 4-0 in Nashville on Tuesday.

Reyna scored two goals in the friendly win. The goals were the first for Reyna in a US jersey since June 2021. He scored the first goal of the game in the 10th minute and put the ball into the net again in the 39th minute.

“Gio scored two goals and besides the goals, it was the way he gets the players into the attack, the way he can stay calm on the ball,” Berhalter told reporters after the game. “He gives us the calm and composure that we need sometimes, but then he is crucial for the final passes. For me, that performance was really indicative of his entire camp.”

Football player Gio Reyna
Gio Reyna #7 of the United States celebrates his first half goal against Ghana during an international friendly match at GEODIS Park on October 17, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Erin Chang/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF

Berhalter’s comments about Reyna’s focus during training sessions were in stark contrast to his description of Reyna after a disappointing American performance at the 2022 World Cup.

In his speech in December, which was supposed to be closed to the public, Berhalter criticized an unnamed player for his behavior “on and off the field.” The comments were published days later and, along with a report from the Athletic about his behavior before the World Cup, Reyna came under intense public scrutiny.

Gio’s parents, Claudio and Danielle Reyna, intervened in the situation. The couple, long-time family friends of Berhalter’s, contacted then-U.S. Soccer Federation athletic director Earnie Stewart about their son’s treatment. They also shared an allegation of domestic violence against Berhalter from his time as a student.

“As part of that conversation,” Danielle said in a statement reported by the Associated Press, “I told Earnie that I thought it was particularly unfair that Gio, who had apologized for his immature behavior regarding his playing time, still followed through the mud when Gregg asked for and received forgiveness for doing something much worse at the same age.

The association appointed an interim coach while it investigated the matter. Ultimately, the organization released findings that cleared Berhalter and found he was not guilty of withholding information during his hiring process. The investigation detailed the incident between Berhalter and his now-wife, as well as the actions the coach subsequently took to respond to his actions. Berhalter returned to his role in June 2023.

Overcoming a public feud that rehashes embarrassing details must be a difficult task. However, Berhalter seems to believe that the team is better with Reyna.

“He had a very strong team, a great attitude, great training sessions. For me, it wasn’t just the offensive things he did,” Berhalter said. “Tonight is more about what he does and what he did off the ball. I think it was tireless work. We talked about it before the game, tireless work in defense, and he definitely did that. It was a good step for us.”