DUSSELDORF, Germany — Giovanni Reyna comes into the room. He sits down. He leans again in his chair and, after perhaps 30 seconds of small speak, he says, “Hear, I do not need to look again previously. In any respect.” He smiles.
Reyna is not being unreasonable. He has had, by any measure, a brutal 12 months. There was a hamstring. There was a thigh. There was a hamstring. There was a tweak. There was an sickness. There was a twinge. Reyna continues to be solely 19, however he has already had a style of center age, the accidents seemingly by no means stopping. Reyna missed 34 of Borussia Dortmund‘s previous 45 matches and 15 of the previous 19 for the United States previously 12 months. Watching that a lot soccer when you need to be enjoying? Reyna withered. He wilted.
So it is smart that he needs to look forward. With the World Cup simply eight weeks away, Reyna is lastly wholesome. He and his coaches, together with U.S. boss Gregg Berhalter, are being cautious to not overdo his workload too quickly, however of the very (very) few positives for america that got here out of Friday’s 2-0 loss to Japan in Dusseldorf, Reyna’s first begin for the Individuals since final September was important.
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Reyna was hardly wonderful. Nobody on the U.S., save for goalkeeper Matt Turner, had something near a superb efficiency in opposition to Japan. Any workforce that fails to register a shot on aim regardless of having almost 60% possession deserves the criticism it receives.
Reyna did present flashes, although. The perfect likelihood for the U.S. got here within the first half, when he pinged a go to arrange Sergino Dest ripping down the sting earlier than crossing to Jesus Ferreira instantly in entrance of aim. That Ferreira weakly headed over was unlucky, however the passage of play main as much as it was precisely what followers (and Berhalter) have been craving.
So, too, was the sequence when Reyna took the ball in his personal half and went on a run, slicing out and in of defenders and shifting the U.S., all on his personal, into the attacking third. Prior to now, Berhalter has usually used Reyna out vast, however he acknowledged this week that he sees the worth of Reyna’s on-the-ball ability in a extra central function. In opposition to Japan, Reyna accomplished 9 of 11 passes, 3 of 4 throughout the attacking third, and registered two progressive carries and one progressive go (occasions within the opposition half that progress the ball towards aim by 5 or ten yards, respectively). It appears virtually inevitable that Reyna will find yourself extra within the center in video games when the U.S. must push the tempo.
“You do not actually say it like this in soccer, however I assume my playmaking talents can harm the opposite workforce,” Reyna says. “Like, in basketball or soccer, when somebody has a ball, you may form of create one thing from nothing or create possibilities. And I believe that is what I can do, whether or not it is for a dribble or with a go or combining — I believe I will do a little bit of every little thing. And that is simply what what I like to do.”
It’s what his father, Claudio, did, too. On Friday, Gio wore No. 21 as a substitute of No. 7, an homage to his dad, a nationwide workforce legend who wore 21 for the U.S. on the 1998 World Cup in France.
It was an intriguing alternative. Household legacy has been a perpetual query for Gio since he was an academy participant (his mom, Danielle Egan, additionally performed for the U.S. on the ladies’s nationwide workforce), and it contributes to the heavy expectations that linger over him.
Usually then, Reyna shies away from speaking a lot about his dad and mom or siblings. However earlier this week, when he did — regardless of his preliminary vow — permit himself to assume extra deeply about what he went via previously 12 months, he shook his head when speaking about needing his household to assist him via probably the most tough moments.
“I had some actually, actually powerful days,” Reyna says. “Some actually, actually, you realize — do not need to do something, form of simply sit in my room all day. Do not need to go outdoors. Not within the temper to speak to my mates.”
He shrugs. “It is irritating, you realize? You are lacking video games, you are lacking trainings, you are again in America when you need to be in Dortmund enjoying.”
To their credit score, Reyna says, Dortmund allowed him to return to america for a part of his rehab, which helped, not less than from the psychological facet. Being round positivity from his household — and never having to see, up shut, all that was taking place with out him in Germany — allowed him to deal with what he wanted to do as a substitute of what he was lacking. Berhalter, who checked in recurrently, says he realized in a short time that Reyna had a powerful choice about how their conversations ought to go.
“He was a type of guys who, after a short time, did not need to discuss his damage in any respect,” Berhalter says. “His eyes have been ahead. That was it.”
Now the query is how Reyna avoids what he (and everybody across the U.S. workforce) fears: A relapse. One other knock. One other run the place he pulls up.
Reyna says he continuously labored to strengthen his legs throughout his rehab course of, however he has no plans to vary his model or strategy when he is on the sector. He needs to be — and has been ready to be — the driving drive that the U.S. will want in Qatar.
“I’ve performed within the Champions League,” Reyna says. “And the one factor that actually is form of on my bucket checklist as a child — since I first began watching soccer — is to play in a World Cup with the USA.”
He laughs. “It hasn’t actually sunk in but,” he says. “I am positive it is going to in all probability nearer to the primary recreation however I am simply so excited. It’ll be an incredible expertise for all of us.”