Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the U.S. Men’s National Team in their 4-0 win against Ghana last night (I was too busy beating Zac’s team in rec league soccer), but one of the most popular narratives that has emerged from the game is that Gio Reyna was an absolute stud. He controlled the game, scoring two goals, and generally looking every bit the potentially world class midfielder his talent has promised since first emerging at Borussia Dortmund.
Reyna’s recent performances for the USMNT raise a logical follow-up question: how will he factor into Borussia Dortmund’s season? So far, the answer has been not at all. The excuse so far has been fitness, of which I am slightly skeptical, but with Reyna now healthy and ready to roll, and several BVB attackers struggling to hit their stride, BVB’s management will have to figure out how to get the most out of Reyna moving forward.
At this point, Gio Reyna’s best position is pretty clearly as an attacking midfielder, playing through the middle of the pitch. This is the best spot for him to play his game, where he can slow the game down in the final third, beat defenders in close quarters, and distribute the ball out to the wings or the striker playing ahead of him. Unfortunately— or fortunately, depending on how you look at it— Borussia Dortmund have both Julian Brandt and Marco Reus to compete with Gio for this position. Despite Reyna’s promise, he is still behind both Brandt and Reus in the BVB pecking order, and it’s difficult to see that changing.
The other option, it seems, is to play Reyna out wide in Dortmund’s forward line. Many of you will attempt to head this off at the pass by pointing out that Reyna is not at his best when he plays on the wing. This is probably true, but a potential counter-argument would be that he could not possibly be worse than Karim Adeyemi and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens have been.
Aside from Donyell Malen’s three goals, Dortmund have exactly zero goal contributions from their wide forwards thus far (not including Reus or Brandt who fulfill different roles when played on the wing), in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League. Reyna might not be a winger at heart, but if he can get more than zero goal contributions from the wing, it would be an improvement.
So which option is better? I don’t know! But it certainly beats one of our most talented attacking players rotting on the bench.
How do you think BVB should utilize Gio Reyna this season?