The drama between Gregg Berhalter, the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, and the Reyna family has somehow escalated even more, after Gio Reyna’s parents threatened to reveal details of a domestic violence incident from Gregg Berhalter’s past. The incident follows the bitter controversy that surrounded Reyna and Berhalter during the USMNT campaign in the World Cup.
After the initial outburst and exchange of P.R. statements a few weeks ago regarding Gio Reyna’s lack of playing time and misbehavior at the World Cup, it seemed like things were dying down, but the issue erupted once again last night. The chaos began when Gregg Berhalter released a statement yesterday explaining that during the World Cup, a certain individual had threatened to “take him down” by revealing details about an instance of domestic violence that Berhalter had committed 31 years ago.
Earlier this morning, the Athletic reported that the person in question who had leaked the story to the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) was Gio Reyna’s mother Danielle, who spoke to Earnie Stewart, the Director of U.S. Soccer, on December 11th about the story after Berhalter’s speech criticizing Gio Reyna was made public. While it was Danielle who reached out to Earnier on the 11th, the article also claims that Claudio not only supported her but reached out independently to Stewart and other USSF officials. Danielle, who had been the roommate of Berhalter’s now-wife Rosalind at the time, claimed that she and Claudio went to great lengths to forgive Gregg for his actions, and that they wished that he had extended Gio the same forgiveness for his actions during the World Cup.
In a statement to the Athletic, Danielle claimed that she hadn’t intended to launch an investigation, only to express her frustration and demand that Stewart get Berhalter to stop giving further comments, an assumption that would seem incredibly naive. It’s hard not to see what the Reynas did as either out of sheer vengeance, an attempt to gain leverage over Berhalter, or both.
While I am not a fan of Gregg Berhalter as a coach and I don’t think “it was a long time ago,” necessarily excuses a domestic violence incident, it does sound like he’s undergone a lot of treatment and counseling and work with his wife, who he has now been with for at least 31 years, to move on from it. More to the point, threatening to make public this kind of incident does not help anybody. It only serves to potentially re-trigger trauma that Gregg’s wife Rosalind Berhalter has worked for years to overcome. If the Reynas had concerns with how Berhalter had treated Gio, they really should have approached him directly or stuck to the substance of that issue when discussing it with the USSF, rather than trying to use an incident from the pass as leverage. Finally, comparing Gio’s treatment by Berhalter during the World Cup to an actual incident of domestic violence is ridiculous.
What’s unclear is the extent to which Gio Reyna himself is involved in this. Just because his parents have come to personify the negative stereotype of the invasive little league parent doesn’t mean that he personally was okay with any attempted blackmail. It would have been for the best if, following the World Cup, Gio had just put his nose to the grindstone and worked to restart his career. This has only increased the controversy surrounding him, and will only distract him more once the season restarts.