Please forgive the Eminem pun.
Giovanni Reyna has been hyped up to the American soccer public since he was 14 years old. I still remember seeing an Adidas commercial way back in 2018 featuring the young talent who hadn’t even signed a professional contract yet and was playing for NYCFC youth teams. The son of a USMNT legend was always going to have those expectations on his shoulders if he sniffed the spotlight. After all the controversy and noise swirling around him over the past year, everything seemed to fall by the wayside during these four days in Vegas. What we witnessed was a kid out on the field doing what he loves to do. No distractions, no hoopla. Just an extremely talented soccer player proving just how good he really is.
His 45-minute performance against Canada in the Nations League final will likely go down as one of the best individual efforts in USMNT history. Before kickoff, fans and pundits alike saw the starting lineup B.J. Callaghan decided on and worried about the lack of a defensive midfield presence. It didn’t take long for Gio to show everyone that you don’t need defensive-minded midfielders if one player can control the midfield by himself:
This performance felt like a culmination of years of hype combined with glimpses of brilliance finally colliding to produce something truly special. Reyna has shown signs of being a dominant USMNT performer before but has never consistently put his stamp on a match like he did against Canada. Not only did he control the midfield with his technical excellence, he combined that with the playmaking skills that earned him so much plaudits as a young phenom. His exceptional set-piece delivery helped the U.S. secure an early goal, while his natural skill from the run of play unlocked the Canadian defense a second time. A perfectly-timed and weighted throughball to Folarin Balogun to run onto and finish was stuff dreams are made of:
The first of what I am sure will be many. Flo Balogun goal.— Maximiliano Bretos (@MaxBretosSports) June 19, 2023
Gio Reyna 2 assists.
Goals coming from everywhere this week for USMNT .pic.twitter.com/vDCpITNIEj
Reyna’s mix of skill, technique, vision and tenacity is unlike we’ve ever seen within the USMNT player pool. He is the type of player this team has been waiting for. His performances in these two Nations League matches is proof that he must be included in any full-strength lineup put out as long as he can stay fit.
There’s a long and winding road to the 2026 World Cup. If this run of form can be consistently duplicated, there’s no doubt that Gio should be the one driving this team towards that momentous occasion. If everyone watching can see that, there’s no doubt that Gregg Berhalter will too.