Teamwork makes the dream work

Why Gio Reyna is the USMNT’s X-factor in World Cup 2022

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AL-RAYYAN, Qatar – It’s no secret that the United States males’s nationwide workforce is heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup more healthy than they’ve been in a very long time.

Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah – these key contributors all missed important time during the last year-plus with accidents. Because it stands all of them ought to be out there and able to play when the Individuals open their group stage slate Monday in opposition to Wales (2 p.m. ET, FOX and the FOX Sports activities app).

So ought to one other massively vital participant: 20-year-old attacker Giovanni Reyna. Maybe probably the most naturally proficient of any member of the 26-man U.S. roster, Reyna barely performed throughout World Cup qualifying due to a extreme hamstring tear that was adopted by a sequence of setbacks. However his return to one thing approaching full health after virtually a complete calendar yr on the sideline may spell the distinction between success or failure for the USMNT in Qatar.

“He’s an excellent participant,” Pulisic, the Champions League-winning Chelsea winger and U.S. headliner, stated Wednesday of Reyna who, like Pulisic is a product of German expertise incubator Borussia Dortmund. “We want him on this workforce and when he’s wholesome we’re higher.”

For the uninitiated, Reyna is American soccer royalty. His father, Claudio Reyna, performed in three World Cups for the USMNT, captaining the squad in two of them. His mom, Danielle Egan, is a former U.S. girls’s nationwide teamer who received 4 nationwide titles in 4 years with the College of North Carolina.

Gio, as he’s identified, is taken into account one of many prime younger prospects within the sport. He is the youngest American ever to look within the UEFA Champions League. And now, after his seemingly unstoppable trajectory was slowed first by the pandemic after which by his maddening damage woes, has an opportunity to be the breakout participant for the youngest workforce at this World Cup.

“I all the time knew I used to be gonna be prepared for this second,” Reyna, when requested by FOX Sports activities if he ever doubted he’d be again in time, informed reporters Wednesday after the U.S. skilled at Al Gharrafa Stadium on the outskirts of Doha. “I believe it was all the time at the back of my head, too: be sure I used to be prepared for the World Cup.”

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Boasting his father’s silky contact and off-the-charts soccer IQ and his mom’s all-world athleticism, Reyna affords a unique dimension to U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter — even when he nonetheless may not be fairly capable of play all 90 minutes of the Individuals’ three first-round matches. He’s a game-changer. And his presence alone ought to offer the USMNT a lift.

“He simply has that demeanor about him: when he steps on the sphere, he modifies,” U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner stated. “For a younger child, he’s like a pacesetter on the workforce. I don’t suppose he is aware of that but, however I can see it in him.”

What you’ll be able to’t see are nerves. Maybe due to his pedigree, Reyna is unflappable. Not solely is he unfazed by the magnitude of taking part in in entrance of a worldwide viewers for the primary time in his younger profession, he appears to see it virtually as his future.

“It’s one thing you dream of your entire life and it’s what you’re employed in the direction of,” he stated earlier than shortly including: “However now that I’m right here, we gotta carry out.”

Gio Reyna scores first-career USMNT objective off free kick, knots issues up with Panama, 1-1

It was his first profession USMNT objective and he grew to become the third-youngest USMNT objective scorer ever.

That Reyna all the time anticipated to play at this World Cup doesn’t imply the final year-plus was straightforward. On two separate events final season, he returned to Dortmund’s lineup solely to re-injure himself and stroll off the sphere in tears. The second occasion ended his 2021-22 season and price him the start of this one, plus 4 U.S. matches in June.

Not eager to danger something, the Bundesliga energy has carefully managed Reyna’s minutes this season. That persistence has paid off not too long ago, with Reyna showing in every of the Black & Yellow’s 10 video games earlier than the World Cup break.

“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling sturdy,” stated Reyna, who will put on the identical No. 21 shirt his dad did on the 1998 World Cup.  “It’s clearly nonetheless managing a number of issues [and] it’s gonna take time, however I’m prepared to assist the workforce right here.”

Simply getting thus far is a reward for his persistence.

“World Cups don’t come round too typically,” he stated. “It’s a particular second.”

It may be much more particular for his mother and pop, who will arrive in Qatar two days earlier than the Individuals’ opener.  

“They’ll most likely be crying after I’m taking part in within the first recreation,” stated Reyna, who hasn’t seen his dad and mom in months.

“I’m certain it’s going to imply lots to them.”

Learn extra:

Doug McIntyre is a soccer author for FOX Sports activities. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a employees author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities and he has coated United States males’s and girls’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Observe him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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