DOHA, Qatar. All this speak about American males’s lack of world championship expertise overlooks the truth that Gio Reyna is definitely within the event for the third time.
The primary, in 2002, he doesn’t keep in mind, as a result of he was nonetheless 5 months earlier than his beginning. The second can also be somewhat fuzzy, though he has seen images of him and his father, long-term USA crew captain Claudio Reina, after video games and in coaching throughout the World Cup in Germany.
There are even a few images of 3-year-old Gio with considered one of his dad’s teammates, a man who’s now the coach of the US nationwide crew.
“You don’t perceive it till you attain a sure age,” Gio Reina mentioned of his father. “I had these tournaments and everybody got here as much as him and requested for images. I am a bit of confused.
“I understood that he was an expert soccer participant, however I didn’t know what it meant and what it takes to do it.”
The youthful Reina understands this properly now, and this has been made much more evident by a hamstring harm that has saved him out of the sector for many of the final 15 months.
It is not sufficient to only have a expertise, even when Reyna has a primordial vein. You want dedication and perseverance. And, generally, persistence is crucial factor.
Reyna’s early profession trajectory was sky-high. He started enjoying for the New York Metropolis Soccer Membership academy when he was 12 years outdated, and at 14 he transformed a penalty to present the membership’s under-16 crew the Technology Adidas Cup title. He was additionally named the very best participant within the event.
That very same 12 months, Reina scored the successful aim towards England for the US Beneath-15s in an essential worldwide championship.
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Reina signed for Dortmund when he was 16 and have become the youngest American to play in a Bundesliga sport at 17 years and 66 days – over two months sooner than Christian Pulisic. Two weeks earlier than his 18th birthday, he began his first Champions League sport, changing into the youngest American ever to take action.
He made his USMNT debut the day earlier than his 18th birthday and scored his first aim 4 days later.
Two years earlier than the World Cup in Qatar, it was clear that Reina can be a central determine on this youthful technology trying to rework the USMNT.
“Gio is particular, man,” mentioned USMNT teammate Tim Weah. “Off the sector, Gio is absolutely tender, quiet and calm. When he enters the sector, it’s nice to take a look at him. His technical means is a pleasure to take a look at.”
However within the first World Cup qualifier in El Salvador in September 2021, Reina was out of motion early within the second half with a hamstring harm. He’ll solely return to the sector in February, and even then it is going to be fleeting.
In Reina’s third sport, he injured his hamstring and missed one other three weeks. He returned in time to assist the USMNT safe a World Championship spot on the finish of March, however solely performed two extra video games with Dortmund earlier than aggravating a hamstring and ending his season.
Throughout the 12 months, he performed solely 14 matches between the membership and the nationwide crew.
“It is exhausting to remain constructive,” Reyna admitted. “The final harm…was just about torn as a lot as potential.”
Whereas Reina mentioned he by no means fearful about lacking the World Cup, in his newest rehab he additionally made positive there have been no extra setbacks. When he lastly recovered, he needed to remain wholesome.
He returned to Dortmund on 20 August and appeared in two September pleasant matches with USMNT. He performed a restricted variety of minutes, tallying over 80 minutes solely as soon as, in a Champions League sport towards Manchester Metropolis late final month. On this sport, he additionally performed for the primary time over 65 consecutive minutes.
“I really feel good, I really feel sturdy,” Reyna mentioned on Wednesday. “Clearly I nonetheless handle some issues, however sure, I am prepared to assist the crew right here.”
And he’ll assist the People.
Reyna’s technical means, Weah mentioned, is superb. Though he did not rating, his 14-touch run towards Mexico in March qualifying was breathtaking. Reyna dodged six challenges, blasting his method throughout the sector with ease, grace and velocity.
Along with this subsequent degree ability, Reina grants USMNT swagger. He’s assured with out being smug, acknowledging what he’s able to and refusing to do or accept much less.
“He has this demeanor, when he enters the sector, he modifies. After which his change will deliver power, high quality and talent to everybody round him,” mentioned goaltender Matt Turner. “For a small youngster, he’s the chief of the crew. I do not assume he is aware of it but, however I see it in him.”
The truth that Reyna will turn out to be the chief of the USMNT mustn’t shock anybody. In spite of everything, Claudio captained two World Cup groups, together with a 2002 crew that reached the quarter-finals and two extra with the USMNT. (Mom Danielle gained 4 NCAA titles in North Carolina.)
Reyna could not keep in mind a lot of his father’s enjoying profession, however he has been on the highest ranges of the sport all his life and realized the teachings. And whereas Claudio would not discuss a lot about his profession, Gio Reina has mentioned that the one event he competes in is that 2002 World Cup when the USMNT shocked the world and almost upset Germany.
After that World Cup, the world checked out American soccer in a different way. Reyna and his teammates wish to shake issues up once more.
“We’ve got numerous confidence in our group. We’ve got a aim and we wish to succeed,” Reyna mentioned. “If we wish to show to the world that People can actually play, we’ve to point out it on the world stage. What could possibly be a greater stage than the World Championship?
It could definitely make it unforgettable.
Comply with USA TODAY Sports activities columnist Nancy Armor on Twitter @nrarmour.