Gio Reyna ‘guaranteed’ the fallout from his mother’s blackmail attempt on US World Cup coach Gregg Berhalter would continue by celebrating with his fingers in his ears for Borussia Dortmund, says Alexi Lalas.
Berhalter was forced to publicly admit to kicking his now-wife Rosalind in the legs during a violent row back in 1991, having been threatened by a mystery blackmailer who approached US soccer threatening to ‘take him down’ with the information. It later emerged that the mother of USA international Reyna had informed the country’s governing body about the incident in question.
Reyna, who represents Dortmund at club level, was heavily expected to be a central figure for USA at the recent Qatar World Cup, only to be used sparingly by Berhalter.
Danielle Reyna, fueled by frustration over her son’s lack of action, therefore made a move that Berhalter insists was a clear attempt ‘to bring about the end of my relationship with US Soccer’. He also admitted the 1991 incident was ‘a shameful moment and one I regret to this day’.
Alexi Lalas says Gio Reyna ‘guaranteed’ the fallout from his mother’s blackmail attempt on Gregg Berhalter would continue with his fingers-in-ears celebration for Borussia Dortmund
Berhalter was forced to admit to kicking now-wife Rosalind in the legs during a violent row in 1991 after being threatened by a mystery blackmailer, who turned out to be Reyna’s mom
Lalas has not tired of calling for Berhalter to remain in charge of USMNT despite the incident
It is still unclear whether Berhalter, whose contract expired at the end of 2022, will continue in his role as USMNT coach, and amid speculation over the manager’s future and criticism aimed at his own family Reyna hit back with a telling celebration on Sunday.
After firing home a sensational winner for Dortmund in their 4-3 victory over Augsburg, the 20-year-old placed both fingers in his ears in what many believe was a response to the controversy surrounding his mother’s blackmail plot.
And Lalas, who earned 96 caps for USA during his playing career, has suggested the celebration would have been inspired by certain ‘motives’. ‘Nobody is debating the talent that Gio Reyna is or what he can hopefully be as he progresses. Not me, not you, not anybody out there, not Gregg Berhalter and certainly not Gio Reyna’s parents,’ the former defender said on his State of the Union podcast.
‘But everything that he does takes on added and more significant meaning, especially when you celebrate like this – and don’t think for a second that players don’t have motives by the way in which they celebrate. It is that moment where you know every camera and eyeball is going to be on you and what you do is going to be interpreted and at times misinterpreted.’
Lalas has not tired of calling for Berhalter remain in charge of USMNT, insisting the altercation with his now-wife 32 years ago should not play a part in the decision-making process.
Reyna scored a spectacular winner for Dortmund in their 4-3 victory over Augsburg on Sunday
The 20-year-old then produced a celebration many feel was a response to the Berhalter story
Lalas believes it was ‘mission accomplished’ for Reyna if he wanted to keep the story relevant
He then continued: ‘To Gio Reyna I say this: Gio, I would love nothing more than to not have to hear another word about the crap that you and your parents pulled during the World Cup. Unfortunately, it is not going away and not going away anytime soon, so we are going to have to continue to hear it. And obviously by your reaction, you are hearing it.
‘I actually am happy that you at least recognize that you need to be able to cut that out as to the extent that you can and go on. I’m happy that you are getting playing time. I’m happy that you’re scoring a banger like this, that is wonderful. That was never, ever the question.
‘So those attaching meaning and significance and more meaning to this in order to validate their criticism and/or hatred of Gregg Berhalter for not playing Gio Reyna, I don’t see that connection.
‘Just because Gio Reyna got in the game, again in a substitute capacity, and performed when he got on the field, does not mean that Gregg Berhalter is a bad coach, or that Gregg Berhalter’s decision in how to react and handle Gio Reyna during the World Cup was wrong, or that Gio Reyna should have started for the US in the 2022 World Cup.
Berhalter’s future as head coach of the USMNT remains up in the air after his contract expired
‘I know that’s convenient, and I know it’s right there in the palm of your hand, but that’s not how soccer works.’
Lalas then concluded: ‘Ultimately, Gio Reyna has moved on from the World Cup. We are not moving on, and that he’s doing this celebration guarantees this story will continue on – which is what we are talking about right now.
‘So mission accomplished if that’s what you wanted to do, Gio.’