ESPN’s acquisition of Bundesliga rights in the United States was met with optimism by most American-based fans of German soccer. The first feature ESPN is airing related to the Bundesliga is an “SC Featured” on American star Gio Reyna who broke into Borussia Dortmund’s first team late last season. This feature, titled The American Dream (based on a nickname Reyna has been given by Erling Haaland) will air Sunday morning.
The feature and its placement on SportsCenter illustrates first hand ESPN’s ability to leverage its other sports programming to promote the Bundesliga and the American players in the league. The piece was made possible by the multi-year deal between the Bundesliga and ESPN as its US media partner, and helps kick off the new league campaign, coming just a week after Bayern Munich lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy in Lisbon.
Reyna’s story, which is presented by reporter Sam Borden, hooks the viewer by opening logically with Taylor Twellman’s now famous October 10, 2017 rant on ESPNEWS after the United States lost to Trinidad & Tobago. It takes a look at the career of Gio Reyna’s famous parents, both of whom played for the US national team and gives a sense into his family life growing up.
As most fans of American soccer are aware, Gio’s older brother Jack died in 2012 of brain cancer at 13. At the time Gio was 9. The loss was especially difficult for Gio and drove him forward.
Reyna’s performances with the youth ranks of his hometown club New York City FC led to him being placed on the radar of several top European clubs. Michael Zorc, Dortmund’s Sporting Director and Lars Ricken, the club’s top youth coach, both share their impressions of Reyna’s play and development in the piece.
When coronavirus struck, Reyna was not able to leave Dortmund. His family describes the difficulty of not seeing him. We get an inside view of the family back in the United States rising early in the day when Dortmund defeated Fortuna Düsseldorf and watching Reyna enter the match with twenty minutes remaining.
Unfortunately, Reyna fell ill after this match but thankfully he did not contract COVID-19. He was away from the team for while he recovered from strep throat, but returned to serve up an assist to Haaland in his first ever Bundesliga start against RB Leipzig. The win clinched Dortmund’s spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
How Reyna fits into the US Men’s National Team picture and comparisons to Christian Pulisic are also part of the piece.
The feature has a serious documentary-type tone toward the newest potential American superstar, who has worked his way into one of the top Bundesliga sides and a serious look at how his older brother’s death impacted his career.
For soccer fans in the US, this feature is a must-view. The piece will help set up the Bundesliga season on ESPN’s family of networks as well as raise anticipation around this season’s Borussia Dortmund side and whether or not Gio Reyna will make a major impact in the coming campaign. Set your DVR to record the Sunday morning SportsCenter or tune in live to watch the feature.
Editor’s note: The American Dream airs Sunday in the 8AM ET window of SportsCenter on ESPN, and will re-air in the 10AM ET-hour window.
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