The real villain of the Berhalter-Reyna saga? Gio Reyna’s soccer parents nightmare


Claudio Reyna (top left) and his wife Danielle pose with their sons, bottom left to right, Jack, 9, Joah, 17 months, and Giovanni, 5, before a news conference in Newark, NJ July 16, 2008 to address Reynas to announce his retirement from football. (AP Photo/Mike Derer, file)

If Claudio and Danielle Reyna were hoping to make someone look bad by revealing a 30-year-old attacking situation, they definitely succeeded.

The Reynas look terrible.

Her need for revenge on US men’s national coach Gregg Berhalter for her son Gio’s lack of playing time at last year’s men’s World Cup had the desired effect in the short term: Berhalter’s contract was not extended before it expired on December 31. The football world learned about one night the trainer said he regrets it to this day.

Additionally, the Reynas unknowingly pulled back the curtain on their own unsavory behavior at best, including frequent complaints at US Soccer, “bullying” by organization officials, sexism; basically stereotypical nightmare for sports parents.

On Monday, US Soccer released the results of the investigation it commissioned into Berhalter, who was released from the role last year. They confirm much of what Berhalter has publicly admitted about an ugly incident that took place between him and then-girlfriend Rosalind when they were college students at the University of North Carolina

Through the investigation, all signs point to that one horrifying night in 1992 — when Rosalind and Gregg’s screaming match turned physical, with Rosalind either slapping or scratching his face and Gregg responding by knocking Rosalind to the ground and kicking her — as the only incident of this nature between the couple. Both immediately reported the event to their parents and respective UNC soccer coaches, Gregg sought therapy and they reconciled seven months later; You stay together today.

But destroyed? The decades-long friendship between the Reynas and Berhalters and the public’s perception of one of America’s greatest players. It’s unclear at this point what the Reynas’ tactics have done to their relationship with their adult son, and how their soap-opera-level villainy could have a long-term impact on US soccer.

Claudio Reyna has been named to four US World Cup teams, played on three (he was injured in 1994) and served as captain on two. He also played twice in the Olympics and retired from football in 2008 after two seasons with the New York Red Bulls of MLS, allowing him to spend his final years not far from his New Jersey roots.

His relationship with Gregg Berhalter began as a teammate in high school. According to Claudio Reyna’s account, after reconnecting after college, the two became so close that Claudio was the best man when Gregg and Rosalind got married. And Rosalind and Danielle Reyna have been friends for almost as long, starting when they were roommates and teammates at UNC.

But apparently hell didn’t spurn anger like soccer parents. Because once their kids got involved, the Reynas were more than willing to set everything on fire to get Gio what he thought he deserved.

According to the findings, last year’s World Cup was only the crowning glory.

Claudio, who did not sit down with attorneys leading the investigation, had been in contact with US Soccer for years. A federation official said text messages would come “in the heat of the moment” and phone calls would follow, with Claudio venting. Examples of this were when Gio was a youth player and Claudio tried to get the federation to pick up a red card his son had received as it meant Gio had to sit out the next game and a 2019 text message to Berhalter, in which he complained about the national team’s under-17 performance and called Raphaël Wicky “the worst coach”.

A year earlier, Claudio sent an email bemoaning the presence of a female official, writing: ‘Can we go real and have male referees for a game like this. It’s embarrassing, folks. What are we trying to prove? A game like this deserves a bet[e]your attention.”

Because, as we all know, the men’s game and the women’s game are so completely different that it’s absolutely impossible for a woman’s brain to process it. (For the ignorant, that’s sarcasm. Thick sarcasm.)

While the name has been blacked out in documents, someone at US Soccer circulated Claudio’s email about the referee internally, calling her “sad to see” and “not appropriate or acceptable.”

Then came Qatar.

When Gio didn’t play at all in the US World Cup opener against Wales, both of his parents made “vague” comments to US football officials about the 1992 incident between the Berhalters, and Claudio texted US Football Sports Director Ernie Stewart: “what for a complete and perfect [expletive] to kid. Our family is disgusted…disgusted at how a coach is allowed to never be challenged and do what he wants.” He sent something similar to Brian McBride, the federation’s general manager.

At a meeting with McBride three days later, Claudio brought up the night 30 years ago again, reportedly saying, “You guys don’t even know what we know about Gregg.”

Ultimately, however, it was Danielle Reyna who stopped the threats and carried them through. On a phone call with Stewart after the World Cup, it was she who said Gregg “beat them [expletive] out of” Rosalind in college, sets everything in motion.

With nothing further revealed by the US Soccer investigation, it is said that Berhalter remains a candidate to fill the vacant role he once held, although he is now deemed hopeless now that Stewart and McBride are no longer with the association.

USMNT caretaker coach Anthony Hudson invited Gio Reyna, who is just 20, to a training camp in Orlando, Fla., ahead of CONCACAF Nations League games against Grenada and El Salvador earlier this month, and Reyna has reportedly agreed.

However, Claudio and Danielle have a much harder road to go. While they didn’t break any rules, as US Soccer didn’t have a formal policy on parent-staff communication, that might be the least of their worries. Their poisonous ways are now well known.

“When things don’t go well for Gio, [the Reynas] turn and go into attack mode,” Berhalter told investigators.

What began as a childish quest for revenge and exposed the misdeeds of a supposed lifelong friend instead exposed Claudio and Danielle Reyna as the villains.

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