Gio Reyna responds after his World Cup drama was revealed: 'I let my emotions get the best of me'

AL RAYYAN, QATAR - DECEMBER 3: Gio Reyna #7 of the United States chases after a loose ball during a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USMNT at Khalifa International Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. (Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

DOHA, Qatar — Gio Reyna publicly acknowledged in a Monday Instagram post “that I let my emotions get the best of me” at the 2022 World Cup. But in the statement, his first public comments since the tournament began, he clapped back at recent reports — and their sources — detailing how his behavior with the U.S. men’s national team almost got him sent home.

Reyna released the statement roughly 24 hours after a newsletter published comments from USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter detailing how an anonymous player “was clearly not meeting expectations on and off the field” at the World Cup. The comments were made at a Tuesday leadership summit that, according to a U.S. Soccer spokesman, was “explicitly off the record,” meaning Berhalter believed his words would not be published.

After they were published, fans quickly concluded that the anonymous player was Reyna, whose playing time had been mysteriously limited in Qatar. Hours later, multiple reports confirmed the assumptions. The Athletic reported that Reyna had shown an alarming lack of effort and intensity in training and a pre-World Cup scrimmage.

Reyna, who said he felt “the need to make a brief statement” because “statements have been made that reflect on my professionalism and character,” confirmed some basic details but offered new ones that painted a slightly different picture.

“Just before the World Cup, Coach Berhalter told me that my role at the tournament would be very limited. I was (devastated),” Reyna wrote. “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 as 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,” he continued. “I apologized to my teammates and coach for this, and I was told I was forgiven.”

He did not address the reports that, as Berhalter said, he and the team’s leadership group — a half-dozen experienced players including captain Tyler Adams — were “prepared to” send the then-anonymous player home.

Reyna then continued: “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.”

Reyna, 20, is widely considered one of the most talented players in the U.S. program.

Berhalter’s contract expires this month. He and U.S. Soccer are both currently deciding whether to extend it through the 2026 World Cup.