The Gio Reyna enigma: Trying to understand the USMNT star's struggles in club football

Gio Reyna is just 21 and regularly showcases his incredible talent for the USMNT, but his story at the club level is far from similar.
Mexico v United States: Final - Concacaf Nations League
Mexico v United States: Final - Concacaf Nations League / John Dorton/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages
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Since Greg Berhalter’s reappointment, Gio Reyna has had more goal contributions for the USMNT than any other player. With teammates like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams, it would be easy to overlook Reyna, but fans shouldn’t. The 21-year-old has competed in three finals as a USMNT player, and has scored twice and assisted three times in those games. Gio Reyna is the current MVP of US Soccer. So why can’t he shine at the club level?

There are differences in managerial approaches, but a player such as Reyna needs a coach to believe in him. Edin Terzic has proven to be a stubborn trainer and I question if he ever really considered Reyna as a possible starter at Borussia Dortmund.

We’ve seen Terzic’s loyalty to certain players, and then I try to put myself in Gio’s shoes. While I’m a fan of Jadon Sancho, it was clear as soon as the loan deal was signed, that Terzic had faith in Sancho’s ability over Reyna, a confusing decision given the individual circumstances of each player. Gio Reyna possesses strong individual quality, so why not try to better integrate that into the team?

I know very little about Nottingham Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo, but I imagine he had some plan for the Reyna upon signing him on loan. I think I can join the Forest fans in wondering what, exactly, that plan was? There will certainly be pressure to play Reyna after his international exploits in the last week. So hopefully, Reyna will find some long-awaited game-time. 

A player who has played as little as Reyna over the last season doesn’t just show up and put in THAT kind of performances over two matches for his country. It just doesn’t happen- but it did. I’m as confused as you are.

There has been speculation of Reyna’s possible attitude problems in the past, and I’m not denying that. Gio’s body language when BVB can sometimes be negative, and half the time, he doesn’t look happy to be playing. It’s important to remember here that despite his profile, Gio Reyna is only 21. What I see is an incredibly talented young player who has been forced to grow up faster than anyone should. His parents have found the spotlight at times, stirring controversy and directing the media away from Gio’s sporting merit. Add to that all the injuries Reyna has been forced to deal with at such a young age, and these things can certainly take their toll.