It is so perfect it hurts that US Soccer has been tied up in knots recently, mostly due to a parent of a player bitching about his kid’s playing time and threatening everyone within shouting distance about it. But apparently, US Soccer has been dealing with that kind of thing from Claudio Reyna for a long while now. How very American.
That was the leading bullet point of the official release of the report commissioned by US Soccer and conducted by Alston & Bird LLP, which was released this afternoon. Most of it is stuff we already knew–that Gio Reyna acted like a real turd in training, and thus got admonished by coach Gregg Berhalter and teammates alike, and didn’t play much in the World Cup, which pissed off the Reynas, who then, in turn, ratted him out to US Soccer in retaliation about a domestic violence incident 30 years ago, which ate the cat that ate the rat in the house Alexi Lalas built..or something.
However, there were a few nuggets that at least colored in what was already in the public sphere. The first is that Claudio has been pestering and threatening various US Soccer officials over Gio’s use and play since he was in the U-17s. Going as far back as 2016, Reyna the Elder has been bitching about everything from travel arrangements, which he apparently thought should be better for his son than any other player, to refereeing decisions that went against his son.
1. As background, Investigation witnesses described a pattern of periodic outreach by Mr. Reyna to U.S. Soccer officials and staff from in or around 2016 through the end of 2022, the purpose of which was to convey certain complaints and comments about U.S. Soccer’s treatment of his children, including primarily his son, USMNT player Gio Reyna. Witnesses reported that Mr. Reyna’s past actions involved attempts to influence decisions by U.S. Soccer officials and staff concerning his children on issues ranging from travel arrangements to the impact of on pitch refereeing decisions.
Adding to what happened this past December was how the Reynas behaved at the World Cup — specifically the first game. Friends and family of the players were bussed to the Wales game together, with the Berhalter and Reyna families being assigned the same bus for travel. While the trip to the stadium went off without a hitch, it was after the game when fireworks started, and Gio’s mother refused to travel back to the hotel on the same bus as Rosalind Berhalter. It’s important to remember that the Berhalters and Reynas had been friends for 30 years (!), and after one match suddenly they were at a point where the Reynas were refusing to get back on the same bus as Mrs. Berhalter. They say 90 minutes can change lives, but come on, man…
[Redacted] further explained that, as people began departing for the busses, Mrs. Reyna said: “I’m not getting back on that bus”; [Redacted] expressed confusion; and Mrs. Reyna replied: “I don’t think you understand. I’m not getting back on that bus.”
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The report conveys that both Gregg and Rosalind Berhalter were completely open and honest during their interviews about the incident that happened in 1992, as well as Gregg’s sorrow and attempts to make amends. The findings are far less kind to the Reynas, with Danielle changing her story from one interview to the next about when she talked to Ernie Stewart and what she threatened Berhalter with and when. Danielle claimed during interviews that she would never go public with her knowledge of the domestic violence incident with the Berhalters, but she was thinking of telling more people privately, which… what?
We were less impressed with the Reynas’ cooperation during the Investigation. After several attempts to schedule an interview, we had two brief phone conversations with Mrs. Reyna on December 29th, and we did not succeed in having a follow-up conversation with her–or any conversation with Mr. Reyna–after that.
The report also counters the Reynas’ argument that they only started mentioning the 1992 incident after Berhalter was caught on tape talking about Gio’s shit-tastic training behavior at a conference after the World Cup. The report documents that Danielle started mentioning what she knew about Berhalter after the Wales match, without mentioning it specifically. It makes it clear that it was pretty much all retaliation for their son’s playing time, while possibly poisoning the water for Berhalter to earn another contract from US Soccer after his first one ended in December.
At no point in the report do the Reynas, unlike their son originally, make any allowance for what their son had actually done in training, nor does there seem to be any appreciation for Berhalter taking the bullet for their son during the tournament, even if he slipped up at that conference afterward (though he didn’t mention Gio by name). Berhalter tried to cover for Gio when asked in Qatar by sticking to his wonky health as a reason he didn’t play much. Plenty of other managers would have been happy to bus-toss Gio Reyna to the press to absolve themselves, whereas Berhalter provided cover that the Reyna family were only happy to micturate on.
It’s all a mess, but one that seems to now absolve Berhalter. One wonders if this is enough for US Soccer to rehire him as manager, though they’ve tossed that decision to the sporting director… a position they’ve also yet to fill and aren’t really close to doing so. But hey, this is soccer in America, where it’s always someone else’s job, and more importantly, fault.