The last six months have seen a wild series of stories on U.S. men’s national team and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gio Reyna, with many of those involving his parents Claudio (a former U.S. national team star himself) and Danielle. Reyna saw only limited participation for the USMNT in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar last fall, and that led to many stories about drama between him, his family, and then-USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.
But that dispute particularly flared up early in January, when it came out that Claudio (seen above when he was still sporting director of Austin FC) and Danielle Reyna had threatened to relay supposedly-damaging information on Berhalter to U.S. Soccer and media if their son wasn’t given preferential treatment. And a new report from U.S. Soccer-commissioned law firm Alston & Bird has more details on the 1992 incident the Reynas cited, but many more troubling details on their own involvement. Yahoo Sports’ Henry Bushnell relayed some information on that Monday:
The Berhalter-Reyna report has landed.
There are new details of Gregg's 1992 assault; but he's essentially cleared of further wrongdoing, and U.S. Soccer says he's still a coaching candidate.
And there are plenty of details on Claudio Reyna's meddling:https://t.co/rOlUnlOqFc
— Henry Bushnell (@HenryBushnell) March 13, 2023
Some key parts of Bushnell’s piece there with respect to the Reynas:
Investigators found that Claudio — who refused their requests for an interview — had a “pattern of periodic outreach” to U.S. Soccer officials “to convey certain complaints and comments about U.S. Soccer’s treatment of his children, including primarily his son.” That pattern continued through the 2022 World Cup, but it did not begin there.
His behavior was described by one unnamed person as “inappropriate,” “bullying,” and “mean-spirited.” It began as early as 2016, when Gio was a teen on U.S. youth teams and for New York City FC in U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy. Claudio once attempted to persuade U.S. Soccer officials to overturn a red card that Gio had received. In 2018, he wrote an email complaining about a female referee: “Can we get real and have male refs for a game like this. Its embarrassing guys. What are we trying to prove? A game like this deserves bett[e]r attention.”
In 2019, Claudio sent messages that foreshadowed his behavior in 2022. He texted Berhalter to complain about U.S. U-17 coach Raphaël Wicky during the U-17 World Cup. “He’s the worst coach,” Claudio wrote.
…The investigation revealed that, after the USMNT’s opener against Wales, in which Gio did not play, Claudio and Danielle “each made a vague comment to U.S. Soccer officials suggesting they knew damaging information about Mr. Berhalter that U.S. Soccer did not know.”
“What a complete and utter ****ing joke,” Claudio texted Stewart that night. “Our family is disgusted in case you are wondering. Disgusted at how a coach is allowed to never be challenged and do whatever he wants.”
There’s a lot more in that full report, and none of it looks good for the Reynas. And yes, there are certainly concerns for Berhalter as well; the report has more details than were previously reported on a physical conflict between him and his now-wife in 1992, which is what the Reynas were trying to reference in their complaints to U.S. Soccer. Some more on that:
But on that January night in 1992, while drinking as 18-year-old college students at a nightclub called Players in North Carolina, Berhalter and his then-girlfriend, Rosalind, “began to argue inside the bar,” Alston & Bird investigators wrote in their report. “They left the bar together and continued to argue; once outside, [Rosalind] hit [Gregg] in the face; [Gregg] pushed her to the ground and kicked her twice; [Gregg] was tackled by a passerby, not known to either of the Berhalters.”
But Berhalter reported that incident to his head coach at UNC the next day. And he did reconcile with Rosalind seven months later, and they’ve been married for decades. And, in a statement accompanying the review, U.S. Soccer concluded that Berhalter “remains a candidate to serve as head coach” going forward. That won’t necessarily go over well across the board; Berhalter has taken lots of criticism from parties beyond the Reynas, and his 1992 behavior here still doesn’t look great. But the behavior from Claudio and Danielle Reyna looks much worse, especially when it comes to apparent threats to the federation to make Berhalter look bad if he didn’t emphasize playing their son.
This report certainly doesn’t solve all of U.S. Soccer’s problems. There’s still a real conversation to be had about if it’s better for them to bring Berhalter back or to go in another direction. And there’s a conversation to be had about if Berhalter’s usage of Gio Reyna was appropriate, and a conversation to be had about his future role in the national team despite this drama from his parents. But it is the parental Reynas who seemingly come out of this looking the worst, and their actions here raise a lot of questions about parents of U.S. soccer prospects in general. And this report paints their behavior during the World Cup and before in quite a notable light.