Former United States women’s national team player Danielle Reyna revealed an incident of domestic violence from U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter’s past to the sporting director of the country’s soccer federation, Reyna said in a statement, according to The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio.
Reyna’s Dec. 11 phone call with Earnie Stewart – whom she describes as a “close friend” – came after Berhalter told a summit on moral leadership that an unnamed U.S. player was almost sent home from the 2022 World Cup for “not meeting expectations on and off the field.”
It was widely reported that the player was Giovanni Reyna – son of Danielle Reyna and her husband Claudio Reyna, who captained the U.S. men’s national team during his career. Those claims were corroborated when the 20-year-old winger wrote on Instagram that he was upset with his “limited” role in Qatar.
Danielle Reyna detailed her conversation with Stewart in her statement.
“I was absolutely outraged and devasted that Gio had been put in such a terrible position and that I felt very personally betrayed by the actions of someone my family had considered a friend for decades,” she said.
“As part of that conversation, I told Earnie that I thought it was especially unfair that Gio, who had apologized for acting immaturely about his playing time, was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for and received forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age.”
Berhalter detailed a 1991 incident involving his future wife, Rosalind Berhalter – then Rosalind Santana – in a tweet Tuesday. He revealed that he “voluntarily sought out counseling” after he “kicked her in the legs.” He added that they tried to rebuild their relationship following a phone call from Rosalind seven months later and have now been married for 25 years.
Gregg Berhalter said an individual contacted U.S. Soccer during the World Cup and told the organization “they had information about me that would ‘take me down.'”
Danielle Reyna appeared in her statement to take issue with Gregg Berhalter’s characterization of the 1991 incident.
“Without going into detail, the statements from yesterday significantly minimize the abuse on the night in question. Rosalind Berhalter was my roommate, teammate, and best friend, and I supported her through the trauma that followed,” she said.
“It took a long time for me to forgive and accept Gregg afterward, but I worked hard to give him grace, and ultimately made both of them and their kids a huge part of my family’s life. I would have wanted and expected him to give the same grace to Gio. This is why the current situation is so very hurtful and hard.”
Claudio Reyna also messaged executives from the country’s soccer federation during the World Cup, threatening to reveal sensitive details from Gregg Berhalter’s past, multiple sources told ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Kyle Bonagura.
The former midfielder, who serves as sporting director of Major League Soccer’s Austin FC, denied those allegations in a statement to The Athletic.
“While in Qatar, I shared my frustrations about my son’s World Cup experience with a number of close friends, Earnie and (U.S. men’s national team general manager) Brian McBride among them. However, at no time did I ever threaten anyone, nor would I ever do so,” he said.
Danielle Reyna and Rosalind Berhalter were teammates and roommates at the University of North Carolina. Claudio Reyna and Gregg Berhalter played youth and high school soccer together in New Jersey before becoming international teammates; they earned a combined 156 caps for the United States.
Giovanni Reyna represents German club Borussia Dortmund and is considered among the most exciting young players available to the U.S. men’s program. He was called up to the World Cup squad despite nagging injury issues over the past year, making only two substitute appearances during the Americans’ campaign.
Several U.S. teammates, including DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long, reportedly expressed concerns over Giovanni Reyna’s attitude in Qatar.
U.S. Soccer said Tuesday it “immediately hired Alston & Bird LLP to conduct an independent investigation into the matter” upon learning of the allegations against Gregg Berhalter on Dec. 11.
The organization announced Wednesday that U.S. men’s assistant coach Anthony Hudson will oversee the national team training camp in January.
Gregg Berhalter’s contract as head coach of the men’s national team is technically over, but U.S. Soccer has yet to make a decision on his future. The federation said the “unique November-December timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar significantly reduced the amount of time” to review the men’s program.
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