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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Patrick Andres

Gio Reyna’s ‘Lack of Effort’ Contributed to USMNT World Cup Benching

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As the United States reached the round of 16 in its first World Cup appearance since 2014, one of its stars was absent. Highly touted attacking midfielder Gio Reyna came on as a substitute against England and the Netherlands.

According to a Sunday afternoon report from The Athletic, Reyna’s limited role was due to “an alarming lack of effort” in training leading up to the tournament.

Reporting from Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal described team-wide frustration at Reyna’s lack of intensity in a pre-Cup friendly against Al-Gharafa SC of the Qatari league on Nov. 19, a game the US won 6–0.

The situation escalated during the United States’ 1–1 draw with Wales in its World Cup opener. A frustrated Reyna “threw his shin guards after not being subbed in” during the game, and displayed a lack of effort in the US’s next training session—visible enough that he earned a talking-to from veteran defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long.

Reyna apologized to the team and the situation improved after that, according to Tenorio and Stejskal. The United States lost 3–1 to the Netherlands in the round of 16, a game Reyna entered in the 46th minute.

The US has capped Reyna 16 times since 2020, when he was named U.S. Soccer's Young Male Player of the Year. He has four career goals, most recently in a friendly with Costa Rica on June 9, 2021.

Reyna, who has spent four seasons with Borussia Dortmund in Bundesliga, has two goals in 16 matches this season across all club competitions.

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