For Gio Reyna, the Time is Now

Gio Reyna has been having an almost invisible season at his club. But the 21-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder hopes that the USMNT’s two big games against Trinidad & Tobago can help the national team heal an old wound and kick start his season.

Christian Pulisic is out for two critical games for the United States men’s national team as Gregg Berhalter’s side prepares for a two-leg series against Trinidad & Tobago in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Nations League. The winner books a place in next year’s Copa America, which will be held in the United States.

Why the host nation of the tournament needs to qualify is a different conversation for another day — but the truth is, neither the media nor USMNT fan base have properly stressed the importance of these next two games, especially with the specter of the infamous 2018 World Cup qualifying match still lurking in the background.

For Berhalter and his team it is a must-win affair. The reigning Nations League champs will have the luxury of playing the first leg at home in Austin, Texas, although they will be without Pulisic, who sustained a mild hamstring injury in a recent AC Milan Champions League match. With “Captain America” ruled out, the spotlight now shifts to one man: Gio Reyna.

Gio Reyna’s Season So Far

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Image credit: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Reyna’s season with Borussia Dortmund has been largely uneventful, having played off the bench in three of his four league appearances for the club this season. In his single start, he made it just 47 minutes before being subbed off in a 3-3 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt.

In the UEFA Champions League, Reyna has played only in 11 minutes in a 1-0 win over Newcastle United. To say that his season has been a total disappointment is an understatement. 2023-24 was supposed to be Reyna’s vindication after his major fallout with Berhalter at the 2022 World Cup. The voices on social media and some pundits had it written in stone that Reyna was too good of a talent to stay on the bench, and we would see it this season.

It seems that Dortmund manager Edin Terzić did not get that memo, as he has favored other players over Reyna for the better part of six months if you go back to last season. While Reyna proved effective for Dortmund off the bench last year, given his history of injuries, Terzić has been keener to use Reyna only when need be.

The truth is while Reyna is exceptionally talented, Terzić is going with the players he feels are more durable, and that has left Reyna down the pecking order. As hard as it is for USMNT fans to swallow, Reyna, much like Pulisic before him at Dortmund, has to understand that there are more reliable players ahead of him.

The outlook for Reyna is clear. Minutes will come, and he will have to make the most of what he is given, but running away on a loan will not happen. Dortmund want a major transfer for Reyna, whose contract ends in 2025.

Reyna has proven himself more than capable with 17 goals in 113 games for the club, but ability has never been an issue. He needs to stay healthy consistently, because no European coach will put their job on the line for a player who can’t stay on the pitch.

A Chance in November

After a decent outing against Germany in October, Reyna has a unique opportunity to truly put the USMNT on his back and live up to the hype of being one of the country’s best players. So far, he’s been a superb supporting cast member throughout his 22 caps and six goals for the U.S., with standout matches coming in games against CONCACAF rivals Mexico and Canada.

Against Ghana last October, Reyna had a commanding two goals on an opponent that was there for the taking. Despite huge flashes of brilliance, Reyna has yet to have “his” game for the U.S. — a commanding performance that truly is a statement match in which Reyna proves to be the team’s unquestionable star alongside Pulisic.

If the United States are going to do anything in 2026, or in the Copa America in 2024, the spotlight shines on Pulisic, Reyna, and in a third step Folarin Balogun. With Pulisic out, it’s finally time to give it all to Reyna, and trust him to finally be the man to lead the U.S. and break out of his shell of future promise to unquestionable star.

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