NEW YORK (AP)Gio Reyna, whose parents tried to oust U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter after the 20-year-old midfielder was sparingly used at the World Cup, was selected Wednesday by interim coach Anthony Hudson for CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada and El Salvador.
Reyna made two substitute appearances during the World Cup totaling 52 minutes and Berhalter later said he almost sent a player home because of lack of hustle – remarks Reyna admitted were aimed at him. His parents, former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna and women’s national team midfielder Daniele Egan Reyna, then complained to U.S. Soccer Federation officials and notified them of a 1992 domestic violence incident involving Daniele’s college roommate and Berhalter’s future wife.
The USSF commissioned a law firm to investigate, which determined Berhalter did not improperly withhold information of the incident. Hudson was appointed interim coach during the probe and will remain on until after a new USSF sporting director is hired and supervises the coach search. Berhalter is still a candidate.
Reyna scored in his first three games for Borussia Dortmund after the World Cup and has appeared in seven matches, six as a substitute.
“”For anyone to go through that is going to be a challenge,” Hudson said. “Speaking to him this week, there was no hesitation from him about coming in. He’s determined to come in and do well.”
Hudson said he was not contacted by either of Reyna’s parents during the World Cup and that he isn’t worried about how people view either his non-use of Reyna, saying: “It’s just not come into my thinking at all.”
U.S. captain Tyler Adams will miss the matches at the end of the month because of a hamstring injury. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen and forward Ricardo Pepi are on the 24-man roster after Berhalter left them off of the World Cup squad.
Pepi criticized Berhalter following his omission and has eight goals in his last 18 Eredivisie matches for Groningen. Hudson said that Pepi is “really finding form, finding confidence and he’s been doing well.”
Defender Miles Robinson is back after missing the World Cup because of a torn left Achilles last May 7. He returned to Atlanta’s lineup on Feb. 25, the first of three MLS matches he has played this season, and likely will be limited to one of the upcoming matches.
The full player pool is available for the first time since the Americans were eliminated from the World Cup with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16. Hudson said he limited selections from Major League Soccer to just Robinson because other MLS players will have to miss club matches in June and July for national team games.
The U.S. is planning to use predominantly Europe-based players for the Nations League final four in mid-June and mostly MLS for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which runs from June 26 to July 17.
“The overseas players are going to need a break,” Hudson said, noting that it “worked very well” in 2021.
Forward Daryl Dike returns for the first time since the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup after a hamstring injury and torn thigh muscle limited him to one first-team club match for second-tier West Bromwich Albion between January 2022 and November. Defender Bryan Reynolds is back for the first time since December 2021.
Taylor Booth, a 21-year-old Utrecht winger, and Auston Trusty, a 24-year-old Birmingham defender, could make debuts.
Players returning to the roster include midfielders Johnny Cordoso of Internacional and Alan Soñora of Juárez. América forward Alex Zendejas is on the roster after making his debut in the Jan. 25 exhibition win over Serbia, when most top players were unavailable. The Mexican-American said this week he has committed his international future to the U.S.
The U.S. plays at Grenada on March 24 and El Salvador three days later at Orlando, Florida.
Thirteen players who were on the World Cup roster were omitted: Adams, goalkeeper Sean Johnson; defenders Cameron Carter-Vickers, Aaron Long, Shaq Moore, DeAndre Yedlin and Walker Zimmerman; midfielders Kellyn Acosta and Cristian Roldan; and forwards Jesús Ferreira, Jordan Morris, Josh Sargent and Haji Wright.
Holdovers from the World Cup roster – in addition to Reyna – are goalkeepers Matt Turner and Ethan Horvath; defenders Sergiño Dest, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson and Joe Scally; midfielders Brenden Aaronson, Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah; and wingers Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah.
Hudson said 19-year-old Wolfsburg left back Kevin Paredes is close to being called in and the American staff has been talking with Folarin Balogun, a 21-year-old midfielder eligible to play for the U.S., England and Nigeria. Balogun is fourth in France’s Ligue 1 this season with 14 goals for Reims, on a loan from Arsenal.
“There is open dialogue with him and his team,” Hudson said. “That dialogue is continuing.”
Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Luton, England), Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough, England), Matt Turner (Arsenal, England)
Defenders: Sergiño Dest (AC Milan, Italy), Mark McKenzie (Genk, Belgium), Tim Ream (Fulham, England), Bryan Reynolds (Westerlo, Belgium), Antonee Robinson (Fulham, England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Germany), Auston Trusty (Birmingham, England)
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Leeds, England), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional, Brazil), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo, Spain), Weston McKennie (Leeds, England), Yunus Musah (Valencia, Spain), Alan Soñora (Juárez, Mexico)
Forwards: Taylor Booth (Utrecht, Netherlands), Daryl Dike (West Bromwich Albion, England), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen, Netherlands), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, England), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Tim Weah (Lille, France), Alex Zendejas (América, Mexico)
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