Just weeks after a World Cup performance seen by many as a positive step for a promising group of players, United States men’s national soccer team has been embroiled in a soap opera plot involving her coach, a popular ex-player, a current player (who happens to be the popular ex-player’s son) and an intricate web of family and friend ties.
The drama –the balance of an incident that occurred decades ago outside a university bar— has produced an investigation by the United States Soccer Federation (US Soccer); has threatened the permanence of the coach, Gregg Berhalter, in his position just when he is negotiating a new contract, and could damage the reputation of the player, gio reynaand that of their parents, after his mother reported the bar incident to Berhalter’s bosses.
On the afternoon of January 3, Berhalter posted an extensive statement on Twitter, where he revealed that during the World Cup “an individual” (whom he did not name) had contacted the federation because he claimed to have information that could force the team to terminate his contract. .
Instead, Berhalter offered to tell the story, writing that he had kicked his current wife, Rosalindin the legs during a fight over alcohol use in 1991, when he was 18 and the two had just started dating as college students.
“The lessons learned that night more than three decades ago became the foundation of a relationship of love, devotion and support, which we honor and celebrate with our 25th wedding anniversary this past weekend,” he said in the statement.
Minutes later, US Soccer sent out a vague statement, stating that it had retained a law firm, Alston & Bird LLP, to investigate the allegations against Berhalter (which it did not specify) after learning of them on December 11, just over a week after the team was eliminated from the World Cup in Qatar.
US Soccer also said in its statement on Tuesday that the investigation had separately found that “individuals outside our organization engaged in possible inappropriate conduct toward various members of our staff.” The organization has declined to provide any further details on this matter, citing the ongoing investigation as the reason.
The plot became stranger on the afternoon of January 4, when the parents of Gio Reyna, a 20-year-old winger for the US national team, admitted that they had contacted the team’s sporting director, Earnie Stewarton December 11 with information about the incident from Berhalter’s past.
The father of Reina, Claudio, was captain of the United States men’s national team and is generally considered one of the best players in the team’s history. The his mother, Danielleplayed six times for the United States women’s national team in the early 1990s.
The Reynas’ involvement, first reported by ESPN on Jan. 4, was made even more intriguing by the close relationship of the families, who are known to be close friends. Berhalter and Claudio Reyna played boys’ soccer together in New Jersey, on a club Reyna’s father coached and on the team at St. Benedict’s High School in Newark. The two were teammates at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and Reyna was even best man at Berhalter’s wedding, according to his biography on the United States National Team Players Association website.
Rosalind Berhalter and Danielle Reyna were roommates and soccer teammates at the University of North Carolina.
In a statement released Wednesday, Jan. 4, Danielle Reyna said she had initially contacted Stewart about the bar incident and characterized her actions as an effort to protect her son. She commented that she was “outraged and devastated” after Gregg Berhalter was quoted that day as he spoke at a leadership conference about a problematic player on the team who was almost sent home during the World Cup because of poor attitude from he. Berhalter did not name the player, but it was generally assumed, and correctly, that it was Gio Reyna, who had far less participation in the competition than expected.
Reyna, one of the team’s most promising players, issued a statement on December 12, shortly after Berhalter’s comments were reported, in which he admitted he had reacted badly when told he would have little playing time in Qatar. and expressed his disappointment that his coach had made the situation public.
In his statement on Wednesday, Danielle Reina He mentioned that Berhalter’s description of the bar incident “significantly downplays the abuse on the night in question,” though he did not elaborate. He added that he had contacted Stewart, an old friend, “in confidence” and that he did not expect his comments to trigger an investigation. And he assured that he had not called for Berhalter to be fired.
US Soccer did not reveal much at a press conference held on the same January 4 evening beyond the desire that the investigation be carried out fully and quickly.
Adding to Wednesday’s pile of events, the federation announced that Berhalter would not be the selector during the team’s annual rally in January. Anthony Hudson will fill that position, according to the team.
Berhalter’s contract expired on December 31, and the team suggested that due to the difficult times surrounding the World Cup, which was held in the fall instead of the traditional summer period, the organization had not had the enough time for a regular performance review—separate from an outside investigation—to determine whether Berhalter should continue in office. The investigation and the complex soap opera that emerged on Wednesday have only complicated matters.
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