USA coach Gregg Berhalter has been forced to deny a story he told star midfielder Gio Reyna to lie about his injury.
Reyna played just seven minutes at the World Cup, coming on as a second-half substitute against England, a stark contrast to his impact at club level.
The 20-year-old is one of the Bundesliga’s young stars for Borussia Dortmund but has yet to make the same impact for the United States in Qatar.
This apparently agitated former international striker Eric Wynalda, who then made a series of startling allegations about a Chat on Twitter spaces.
“With Gio Reyna out of training at the moment it’s been a huge controversy within the squad,” Wynalda said.
“Even his own teammates want him on the pitch and it seems to be [causing] internal conflict with the [team] and director Gregg Berhalter.
“I don’t know how much I should comment on this, but I’ve been trying to console Gio’s father, Claudio, for the last few hours, well, the last few days with everything that’s been going on.
“He was fit to play, Berhalter lied to the media and said it was an injury, asked the player to follow this story, which caused a rift between the two of them and now he’s on the bench which is really The situation should have been handled very differently.
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Due to the profile of those involved, the situation was unsurprisingly brought up at a press conference ahead of the USA’s final group game against Iran.
He said, “Speaking of the four-year journey, okay, there’s also been four years of interacting with you guys. [the media].
“What I would say is: I let you decide if I asked Gio to lie about it.
“It’s just not who I am. That’s not what I represent.
“So if you have to take Eric’s word or my word or anything, feel free, but I know what happened, that’s not what I represent.
“Like anyone else, Gio is a member of this team that we care about deeply and we know he can help the team. It’s a question of when he can help us and how he can help us.
After the press conference, Wynalda then offered some sort of apology, saying he didn’t want the issue to become a distraction.
“The first thing I need to clarify…is just that two fathers are talking about a child,” he began.
“[Claudio Reyna and Berhalter] text messaging saying, ‘man I really wish we could see the kid [Gio Reyna] on the pitch, I really hope he can save some time”.
“That’s it, if someone puts the two together as if I was getting information from Claudio Reyna and then including myself in the conversation, I have to dispel that immediately.
“It’s one of those classic cases where that’s not what I meant. The other words I wish I could take away are “ask Gio to accept it”. No, he just expected him to accept, that would have been a better way to introduce him. I’m not saying he physically asked Gio, ‘hey I need you to lie to me.’
“That’s not what happened, and that’s not what I was trying to describe. So if there is a retraction it is misleading and I really hate that this question has to be asked of our national team coach before a game of this magnitude. I don’t want it to be a distraction.
Despite the debate, Reyna was again an unused substitute against Iran, as Christian Pulisic’s first-half winner sent the United States through to the round of 16 where they will face the Netherlands.
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