USA head coach Gregg Berhalter almost sent home Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna from the World Cup due to “extreme” poor behaviour, according to reports.
Berhalter explained at a charter leadership briefing this week that he was close to sending a squad member home, but did not reveal the player’s identity.
The USA team coach Berhalter revealed the issues posed by the unnamed player, who The Athletic say is Reyna.
Speaking at the event, he said: “In this last World Cup, we had a player that was clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field. One of 26 players, so it stood out. As a staff, we sat together for hours deliberating what we were going to do with this player.
“We were ready to book a plane ticket home, that’s how extreme it was. And what it came down to was, we’re going to have one more conversation with him, and part of the conversation was how we’re going to behave from here out. There aren’t going to be any more infractions.
“But the other thing we said to him was, you’re going to have to apologize to the group, but it’s going to have to say why you’re apologizing. It’s going to have to go deeper than just “Guys, I’m sorry.” And I prepped the leadership group with this.
“I said, ‘Okay, this guy’s going to apologize to you as a group, to the whole team.’ And what was fantastic in this whole thing is that after he apologized, they stood up one by one and said, ‘Listen, it hasn’t been good enough, You haven’t been meeting our expectations of a team-mate and we want to see change.’
“They really took ownership of that process. And from that day on there were no issues with this player.”
Incredibly, details from an ESPN report confirm that the squad was asked to vote whether Reyna should stay within the squad.
The outcome was very closely decided in his favour, with 13 players voting in his favour 12 against him.
Specific examples of the player’s lack of professionalism included in the Athletic’s report mention “an alarming lack of effort in training” before the group stage match against Wales.
Reyna was benched for that game and his attitude was also brought into question when Berhalter’s side played a friendly against Qatari side Al Gharafa.
He was described as “walking around throughout the game”, while team-mates DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long were said to have urged Reyna to put in more effort on a number of occasions throughout the tournament.
However, the issues were reportedly resolved when Reyna publicly apologised to the entire squad, recognising “he was part of a collective group.”
Reyna played in two of the USA’s four World Cup matches, as Berhalter’s side were knocked out in the last 16 by the Netherlands.