United States Men’s National Team player Gio Reyna took to Instagram today to criticize comments made by head coach Gregg Berhalter.

Reyna’s decision to speak publicly is in response to a leak of Berhalter’s speech that he made last week at a leadership conference. Berhalter singled out a single player in his 26-man World Cup squad for his lack of commitment and poor attitude.

It was later revealed that the target of Berhalter’s criticism was Reyna, the gifted 20-year old creative midfielder.

Berhalter’s criticism against Reyna

Berhalter attributed a lack of World Cup playing time to some factors from Reyna. Fitness was one, as was fitting into the system. However, the headline-grabbing reason was Reyna’s lack of commitment in training and during a practice scrimmage.

Furthermore, Berhalter revealed that it got so bad, he had a discussion and vote among his coaching staff whether to send Reyna home.

The player responded on Monday to those criticisms. On some accounts, he owned up to his poor behavior, attributing it to his emotional nature as an athlete.

Gio Reyna answers Gregg Berhalter accusations

Reyna’s lengthy Instagram post read as follows

“I hoped not to comment on matters at the World Cup. It is my belief that things that happen in a team setting ought to remain private. That being said, statements have been made that reflect on my professionalism and character, so I feel the need to make a brief statement.

“Just before the World Cup, Coach Berhalter told me that my role at the tournament would be very limited. I was devastated. I am someone who plays with pride and passion. Soccer is my life, and I believe in my abilities. I fully expected and desperately wanted to contribute to the play of a talented group. We tried to make a statement at the World Cup. 

I am also a very emotional person, and I fully acknowledge that I let my emotions get the best of me and affect my training and behavior for a few days after learning about my limited role. I apologized to my teammates and coach for this, and I was told I was forgiven. Thereafter, I shook off my disappointment and gave everything I had on and off the field.” 

Private into public

Reyna continued by mentioning his surprise that this came into the public eye.

“I am disappointed that there is continuing coverage of this matter (as well as some highly fictionalized versions of events) and extremely surprised that anyone on the U.S. men’s team staff would contribute to it. Coach Berhalter has always said that issues that arise with the team will stay “in house” so we can focus on team unity and progress. I love my team, I love representing my country, and I am focusing now only on improving and growing as a soccer player and a person. I hope that going forward each person involved in U.S. Soccer focuses only on what is in the best interest of the men’s national team so we can enjoy great success at the World Cup in 2026.”

Immediate reaction

Overall, this is a poor look for the United States Men’s National Team. On Reyna’s behalf, it is bad to have a young player likely act as if he simply gets playing time rather than earning it. Of course, Reyna admitted his fault, adding that his emotions got the better of him.

For Berhalter, there are a couple of major concerns regarding the treatment of Reyna. If the player knows he will get a limited role at the World Cup, how can the coach expect the player to give it his all? That is assigning value to something before understanding how valuable it is. Furthermore, the release of private information that both the player and the team thought would stay private shows carelessness on the side of the coach. US Soccer even released a statement that Berhalter’s comments were off the record. Furthermore, Berhalter broke the “locker room rule” by discussing what happens inside the inner sanctum.

Reyna, a 20-year-old whose father played well for the national team, showed more restraint by taking the high road than Berhalter in this regard. With Gregg Berhalter’s contract renewal discussions in progress, it should be interesting to see how this debacle affects his outlook. Reyna seems to have no intention of missing out on the 2026 World Cup when it comes to playing on home soil.