BERLIN (AP)Former United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann says the fallout from the public dispute between coach Gregg Berhalter and the family of young star Gio Reyna is ”obviously not looking good” for U.S. soccer.
Klinsmann, who coached the men’s national team from 2011-2016, said Wednesday he felt the problems between Berhalter and Reyna may have played a role in the team’s performance at the World Cup in Qatar. The U.S. advanced from the group stage before being eliminated with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16.
”They’ve done okay,” Klinsmann said in an online call with journalists. ”But they were not capable of kind of stepping it up there and making something happen.”
Berhalter used Reyna for just 53 minutes at the tournament. The U.S. coach told a forum on Dec. 6 that he almost sent a player home for lack of effort, remarks that were clearly about Reyna, the son of former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna.
The Reyna family responded by notifying the U.S. Soccer Federation that Berhalter had in 1991 kicked the woman who would later become his wife, prompting the federation to commission an outside law firm for an investigation. It was also conducting a staff review of the team’s performance over the four-year cycle.
Gio Reyna, who plays for German team Borussia Dortmund, said he was ”devastated” before the tournament when Berhalter told him his role in Qatar would be very limited.
”I fully acknowledge that I let my emotions get the best of me and affect my training and behavior for a few days,” Reyna said. ”I apologized to my teammates and coach for this, and I was told I was forgiven.”
Klinsmann said the stories that emerged after the World Cup were ”sad to see” because the team had needed full concentration ”to make something happen (but) it was not the case. There were issues, there were problems, and they were not able to solve those problems during the tournament.”
Klinsmann said the U.S. men’s team should be aiming for the semifinals of soccer’s biggest tournament.
”This is the dream. This is the goal. And I think that’s where we are still quite a bit away from,” said Klinsmann, who won the World Cup as a player with Germany in 1990. He went on to coach Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup.
Klinsmann said the U.S. needs the 20-year-old Reyna, ”an unbelievable, talented player that showed already in a very, very early age of his career or stage of his career that he can be a difference maker.”
Klinsmann referred to the U.S. hosting the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada as ”a gift from God,” and said the U.S. Soccer Federation needs to ”figure things out” in the next few months.
”You want to have a team there that is capable to make it really far in the tournament,” Klinsmann said. ”And Giovanni Reyna definitely will be part of that team.”
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports