The U.S. soccer federation had a lot of momentum coming into 2023. A strong World Cup performance, joining (and hosting) the 2024 Copa America, and their young team finally seemed to be coming together. Then, in true American fashion, everything started to fall apart. From a young star being upset about playing time, to head coach Gregg Berhalter getting blackmail threats. Here is what we know:
What Lead to this
United States Men’s National Team’s young star Giovanni Reyna was unhappy during World Cup camp. He was told by the manager Gregg Berhalter that he would be a bench player. He was not too pleased with this, so he showed little to no effort during practice before the big tournament. Obviously, this is probably not the best way to gain favor with the coach — or your teammates.
Gregg Berhalter’s Blackmail
On Tuesday, January 3rd, Gregg Berhalter and his wife released a statement. The statement says that during the World Cup someone contacted U.S. Soccer “saying they had information about me that would ‘take me down.’”
The statement then goes on to talk about an event where Berhalter drunkenly gets into an argument with his wife (then girlfriend) that ended with Berhalter kicking her. “There are zero excuses for my actions that night,” he says in the statement, going on to say he “regrets to this day,” and that his wife Rosalind eventually forgave him after some time.
What this has to do with Gio Reyna
Well, it has come out today that Gio Reyna’s father, former national team star, Claudio Reyna, and wife Danielle were the ones behind the blackmail. Claudio Reyna and Berhalter go way back. Playing youth, high school, and college soccer together at UNC. This isn’t some random guy saying they can ruin Berhalter, this is a teammate, and probably someone he called a friend.
Claudio Reyna wasn’t the one who went to USMNT, his wife was. Claudio came out and said “I support my wife’s decision”. He also states that he “wasn’t pleased with how Gio was treated” at and after the World Cup. Danielle Reyna went to the head of the federation and said “I thought it was especially unfair that Gio, who had apologized for acting immaturely about his playing time, was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for, and received, forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age.”
As of right now, that’s all we know. The US soccer federation will be having a press conference later today. Until then the Gregg Berhalter blackmail saga continues.