Former US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said on Wednesday the Gregg Berhalter-Gio Reyna saga “had an influence” on the US team’s performance at the World Cup in Qatar.
The Americans finished second in Group B behind England, but were eliminated after a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the Round of 16.
After the US exit, stories emerged of a rift between coach Berhalter and the Reyna family, who admitted to pressuring US officials with details about Berhalter’s past.
Klinsmann, who managed the US team from 2011 to 2016, said the highly publicised feud was “sad to see”.
“From a fan perspective and a supporter perspective, all that we hope to see is that when you go into a tournament, that every piece of energy is saved for the team.
“Looking at it now, it seems that was not the case. They had problems and they were not able to solve them, and it might have had an influence (on the team’s performance).”
Borussia Dortmund forward Reyna, widely regarded as one of the most talented young players in US soccer, was hardly used by Berhalter in Qatar.
During the latter stages of the World Cup, news emerged that Berhalter had come close to sending the 20-year-old home because he was unhappy with the player’s attitude.
Reyna later apologised to the squad, saying on Instagram he “let my emotions get the best of me”.
After the World Cup, Berhalter’s comments about Reyna’s attitude at a conference were widely reported and then further reports emerged that Reyna’s parents, who were long-time friends of the then US coach, had contacted the US Soccer Federation and promised to release information about Berhalter in apparent retribution for his treatment of Gio.
Claudio Reyna, a former US captain and current sporting director at MLS side Austin FC, and his wife Danielle, admitted in statements to The Athletic and ESPN that they pressed US Soccer Federation executives with details about Berhalter’s past.
Klinsmann, who has lived in California since the late 1990s, said he hoped the US team would be able to push past the controversy before it co-hosts the 2026 World Cup.
“Looking from the outside, the situation of US soccer right now is not looking good… (I think) they will figure things out because the United States is going to be the host of the next World Cup.”
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