Gregg Berhalter on Gio Reyna: “What we want him to do obviously is to impact the game offensively. We want him to score goals and make assists.” (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
For Gregg Berhalter, it doesn’t matter which position Gio Reyna plays. It’s where he can impact the game the most.
Reyna, who is expected to make his full international debut for the U.S. men’s national team against in a friendly at Wales Nov. 12, a day prior to his 18th birthday, has played in the middle and the outside for Borussia Dortmund.
“I don’t think we need to necessarily define exactly where he needs to be playing,” the USMNT head coach said during a media conference call Tuesday. “What we want him to do obviously is to impact the game offensively. We want him to score goals and make assists. I think that’s important. So, we’re going to put him on the field to be able to do it. “
Just how good is Reyna? The son of former U.S. internationals Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan Reyna has made a tremendous impact for the Bundesliga power in the league and in the UEFA Champions League.
Since making his Dortmund debut in 2019, the 6-1, 160-lb. Reyna has turned heads and set standards for American players in Europe. He became the youngest American (17 years, 350 days) to start a UEFA Champions League match in Dortmund’s 2-0 group stage win over Zenit St. Petersburg Oct. 28. That broke Christian Pulisic’s record set for the same club by 12 days.
An adept passer, Reyna recorded three assists in a 4-0 triumph over Freiburg Oct. 3, becoming the youngest Bundesliga player to accomplish the feat. When he scored his first professional goal in a 3-2 loss to Werder Bremen on Feb. 18, 2020, Reyna became the youngest goal-scorer in German Cup history.
“It’s how they get him into position to affect the game,” Berhalter said. “That’s what’s most important. They have defended in a 3-5-2, they have defended in 5-4-1, when he’s played wide. So, he has moved all over the field.
“For us it’s about the same thing. It’s about putting him into a position to affect the game. We generally play a 4-3-3. … We talked about wanting to defend now with three midfielders. I guess you would say he would probably play on the wing with us because you wouldn’t see him defending with three midfielders. But again, we want to put him, we want to put Christian in position to affect the game. and have output.”