Post-Qatar: Drama Amidst the U.S. Men’s National Team

Kaylee Donnelly, Senior Writer

After a surprisingly decent performance in the recent World Cup, the United States Men’s National team (USMNT) has not caught a break from the news. In a relatively unexpected announcement, U.S. Soccer released a statement regarding allegations against the head coach of the team, Gregg Berhalter. 

The coach wrote on Twitter afterwards, confirming the allegations as he stated he had become physical with his wife Rosalind in a bar altercation in 1991. It was a bit of a surprise to many, because unlike most social media controversies, this situation had not gone viral yet. There weren’t a ton of cancellation hashtags, nor was anything like “fire Berhalter” trending. It seems as though the U.S. Soccer Federation found out before everyone, and rather than waiting for the news to break any further, they got on top of the situation stating their “commitment to transparency” in a released statement.

In that statement, they stated that they had immediately hired Alston & Bird LLP to conduct an independent investigation, and that they were hiring a different coach in the interim. The team is currently being managed by interim coach Anthony Hudson. 

Berhalter was hired in 2018 after the USMNT had a rough couple of years. He was able to turn the group around, leading the team to 37 wins, 11 losses and 12 draws before qualifying for the 2022 World Cup from their performance in the CONCACAF tournament. While the team’s success cannot be solely attributed to Berhalter’s coaching, the news is quite upsetting to U.S. soccer fans, and obviously the greater public in general. 

What added even more to this controversy was the involvement of one USMNT players, Giovanni Reyna. It was revealed that Reyna’s mother, Danielle Reyna, had disclosed the details of the 1991 physical altercation, as Rosalind was her college roommate. Her disclosure started the U.S. Soccer Federation investigation and prompted their quick statement release. 

Some find the timing regarding the reveal of this information suspicious. Danielle Reyna disclosed this information shortly following a semi-public feud between her son and Berhalter.

Giovanni Reyna had been a promising player in the rising youth of the USMNT. He scored four goals in only 16 international matches, and is one of the top young players in the German Bundesliga. After suffering injuries in the CONCACAF tournament, Reyna was benched for several matches. 

Some thought he was still hurt, however Reyna claimed that he was healthy enough to play well into the World Cup, and that Berhalter was purposely not playing him. He stated that the coach told him that he would have a limited role in the tournament due to his lack of effort in training. It led to some hostility between Berhalter and Reyna, reaching the point at which Reyna had to issue a rather odd apology to his entire team after their 3-1 loss against the Netherlands for his “lack of effort” in training and in the tournament. 

This controversy brings about the phenomenon of parents’ displeasure with their kids’ playing time. Many people suspect that Reyna’s mother had not disclosed the information until after his lack of playing time in the tournament, and that it was used against Berhalter. The two families had been rather close prior to the tournament, as Berhalter and Claudio Reyna, Giovanni’s father, grew up together. While the actions committed by Berhalter are obviously wrong, the reveal of this information also proves to be suspicious. 

With the feud between the families continuing as the investigation advances, the USMNT is trying to rebuild from losing their head coach. With most of the team playing professionally at the moment, interim coach Hudson is stuck with an extremely young roster during a time of uncertain rebuilding. While he asserts that this young generation is promising, Hudson’s seat is likely temporary, and everyone will have to wait and see what comes of the investigation as well as who may come along to try to continue the team’s relative success.

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