Gio Reyna, amid USMNT drama, scores defiant goal in first leg back of World Cup

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Gio Reyna celebrates after scoring a stunning winning goal for Borussia Dortmund in their first game since the World Cup. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

For more than a month, Gio Reyna has been in the eye of an American football storm. He had to denounce his immature behavior during the 2022 World Cup and then stand by helplessly as his helicopter parents turned a standard story into a sad, ugly, bitter soap opera.

There was only one thing he could do to interrupt the drama, to divert the audience’s attention for a moment – and on Sunday he did it.

For a month and a half, with the German Bundesliga in winter break, he could not respond to a football field. On Sunday, in Borussia Dortmund’s first game after the break, Reyna came off the bench to score a world-class match-winner.

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After half a volley past Augsburg goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz to put Dortmund ahead 4-3, Reyna hopped to the corner flag and chewed his fingers together, in a talking motion, an inescapable reference to all the chatter around him .

He also brought a finger to his lips, in a soothing motion.

He put a hand to his ear.

Then he put his index fingers in both ears.

Since December 3, Reyna has been the center of attention for everything but his ridiculous talent. He had reportedly shown an alarming lack of effort in training leading up to and during the World Cup group stage, in which he ended up playing just eight minutes. Then, after the elimination of the U.S. men’s national team, head coach Gregg Berhalter said at a leadership conference that he nearly sent home an unnamed player from Qatar. That player, it soon turned out, was Reyna.

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On December 11, the day those comments were accidentally published, Reyna’s parents, Danielle and Claudio, went to U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart, Berhalter’s boss, and informed Stewart of an incident in the early 1990s in which Berhalter and his now-wife Rosalind were involved. . Stewart felt obligated to report it. US Soccer launched an investigation, which forced Gregg and Rosalind to speak publicly about the incident to the first team. In a statement in early January, Gregg explained how, when they were teenage students, he kicked Rosalind after an argument at a North Carolina bar. The couple were reconciled and married; Rosalind had forgiven Gregg; the Reynas had exposed Rosalind’s trauma some 31 years later.

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It is unclear whether Gio Reyna had any knowledge of or played a role in his parents’ actions. He addressed his World Cup behavior in a December 12 statement, but has not spoken publicly since.

Instead, he spoke at Signal Iduna Park on Sunday, just eight minutes after his first opportunity to do so. He showed why he will be a crucial player for the USMNT in the future whether Berhalter stays as coach or not. He’s only 20. He’s arguably the most technically gifted player the US has ever produced. He will certainly continue to let those gifts speak.

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