During the upcoming international break, the United States men’s national team will play their first competitive matches since Gregg Berhalter’s return. With the USMNT facing Trinidad and Tobago in a two-legged tie that also includes an away trip to the Caribbean, Gregg Berhalter will have to balance his attack without Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah available While the goals are expected to come from Folarin Balogun leading the line, what is important is how the ball gets to him and that’s where focus heads to the midfield, specifically Gio Reyna.
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The young midfielder has struggled for minutes at Borussia Dortmund but his appearances for the national team have been excellent. With six senior goals and three assists in only 22 appearances, Reyna has been able to make an impact despite receiving limited minutes and missing time due to injury. But, that impact has mainly been limited to friendlies as he has only scored once and assisted three goals in competitive fixtures, all in Nations League matches. That’s why with Weah and Pulisic out of the squad, it’s an excellent opportunity for the 20-year-old.
During the last international window versus Germany and Ghana was the chance for Reyna tohim and he seems like he was able to do that. This window is now a time to show that even if everyone is healthy, not only should he be in the XI as much as possible but also that his role has to be in the center of the pitch to spring the attack.
Few players have the ability to spot and make a pass before space closes down like Reyna can do but his on-the-ball ability to make space for himself is impressive as well. In the most recent window, even his defensive work rate shined as Reyna grows into being a complete midfielder. With a tangible result at the end of this two legged tie, the goal is clear — defeat Trinidad and Tobago to book a place in Copa America while also getting to defend the Concacaf Nations League title.
It’s a goal that has become more complicated without two star attackers but this is where Reyna and the depth of the USMNT can shine. Not only is Rena playing for a consistent role within the national team but he’s also playing for a potential move during the January transfer window to get consistent minutes.
There will be other young players as well with opportunities to step up like Kevin Pardes and Alex Zendejas who could help fill the voids at winger, but even for them to perform, they could need the help of Reyna in the middle to ping the ball around the park.
“Gio made a full return to the lineup in the last national team camp and our objective was to build his fitness not overloading him and getting him into a position where he can go back to Dortmund and play a role and he did that,” Berhalter said around Reyna’s role when the roster was released. “What the next step looks like is yet to be determined but we can certainly envision him being on the field and us being able to push his minutes to help the team win the games.”
Berhalter makes it clear that Reyna will play a major part in what the USMNT do during this window but when it comes down to both minutes and impact, that’s where the ball is in Reyna’s court. Maturing as a player, it’s an excellent chance for growth even if he can only see limited minutes as even a half from Reyna can be enough to secure victories over Trinidad and boost his role and confidence moving forward.
Matt Turner; Sergino Dest, Chris Richards, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson; Yunus Musah, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Alex Zendejas; Folarin Balogun
Thursday, Nov. 16
USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 9 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Monday, Nov. 20
Trinidad & Tobago vs. USMNT, 7 p.m. ET (Paramount+)