The information given to the U.S. Soccer Federation regarding a 1991 incident involving U.S. men’s national team World Cup coach Gregg Berhalter and his wife, Rosalind, originated from her college roommate Danielle Reyna, the mother of U.S. winger Gio Reyna, she said in a statement to The Athletic.
Multiple sources familiar with the matter told The Athletic that an ongoing investigation initiated in December by U.S. soccer was prompted by information shared by Reyna’s parents, Claudio and Danielle. Both provided statements to The Athletic on Wednesday morning confirming that a conversation Danielle had with U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart on Dec. 11 prompted the investigation.
Berhalter released a statement Tuesday detailing the incident, which occurred when he was an 18-year-old freshman at the University of North Carolina with Rosalind, who was then his girlfriend. In his statement, which was signed by Gregg and Rosalind, the Berhalters wrote that during a “heated argument” that spilled outside of a local bar, “it became physical and (Gregg) kicked her in the legs.” The incident was not reported to authorities, but Gregg Berhalter sought counseling and both Gregg and Rosalind told family and friends about the incident. Gregg and Rosalind, who have been married 25 years and have four children, said they were releasing the information because an “individual contacted U.S. Soccer” during the most recent World Cup saying “they had information about me that would ‘take me down’” in “an effort to leverage something very personal from long ago to bring about the end of my relationship with U.S. Soccer.”
Danielle Reyna was a roommate and soccer teammate of Rosalind Berhalter at UNC.
“To set the record straight, I did call (U.S. Soccer sporting director) Earnie Stewart on December 11, just after the news broke that Gregg had made negative statements about my son Gio at a leadership conference,” Danielle Reyna said in a statement. “I have known Earnie for years and consider him to be a close friend. I wanted to let him know that I was absolutely outraged and devasted that Gio had been put in such a terrible position, and that I felt very personally betrayed by the actions of someone my family had considered a friend for decades.
“As part of that conversation, I told Earnie that I thought it was especially unfair that Gio, who had apologized for acting immaturely about his playing time, was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for and received forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age. Without going into detail, the statements from yesterday significantly minimize the abuse on the night in question. Rosalind Berhalter was my roommate, teammate and best friend, and I supported her through the trauma that followed. It took a long time for me to forgive and accept Gregg afterward, but I worked hard to give him grace, and ultimately made both of them and their kids a huge part of my family’s life. I would have wanted and expected him to give the same grace to Gio. This is why the current situation is so very hurtful and hard.”
Danielle Reyna’s statement continues: “At the time I called Earnie, many people were trashing Gio on social media due to Gregg’s comments, and I didn’t know when or if this would stop. I just wanted Earnie to help make sure that there would be no further unwarranted attacks on my son. I thought our conversation would remain in confidence, and it didn’t occur to me at the time that anything I said could lead to an investigation. I’m not criticizing Earnie here.
“I very much commend the recent efforts by U.S. Soccer to address abuse of women players, and I understand now he had an obligation to investigate what I shared. But I want to be very clear that I did not ask for Gregg to be fired, I did not make any threats, and I don’t know anything about any blackmail attempts, nor have I ever had any discussions about anyone else on Gregg’s staff — I don’t know any of the other coaches. I did not communicate with anyone in U.S. Soccer about this matter before December 11, and no one else in my family has made any statements to U.S. Soccer regarding Gregg’s past at all.
“I’m sorry that this information became public, and I regret that I played a role in something that could reopen wounds from the past.”
Gio Reyna’s father, U.S. soccer legend Claudio Reyna, who captained the USMNT at two World Cups, also issued a statement to The Athletic.
“I support my wife, Danielle, and her statement. I too was upset by Gregg’s comments about Gio after the U.S. was out of the World Cup, and I also appealed to Earnie Stewart on December 11 asking him to prevent any additional comments.
“While in Qatar, I shared my frustrations about my son’s World Cup experience with a number of close friends, Earnie and Brian McBride among them. However, at no time did I ever threaten anyone, nor would I ever do so.”
Berhalter and Claudio Reyna played soccer together growing up in New Jersey. Claudio’s father, Miguel, coached their club team and the two played high school soccer together at St. Benedict’s in Newark, N.J. They also played together on the 2002 U.S. World Cup squad. According to a website owned by the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Associationthe U.S. men’s soccer players’ union, Reyna served as the best man at the Berhalters’ wedding.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, U.S. Soccer said it learned of the incident involving Berhalter on Dec. 11 and “immediately hired Alston & Bird LLP to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.” The investigation remains ongoing. The statement also said that during the course of the investigation, U.S. Soccer has “learned about potential inappropriate behavior towards multiple members of our staff by individuals outside of our organization. We take such behavior seriously and have expanded our investigation to include those allegations.”
A spokesperson for U.S. Soccer declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Berhalter’s contract with U.S. Soccer ended on Dec. 31, 2022. In the statement, he said he is “looking forward to continuing my conversations with U.S. Soccer about the future.”
U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that Anthony Hudson, an assistant coach, will lead the U.S. men’s national team for a pair of friendlies later this month.
The saga adds to friction between the Reynas and Gregg Berhalter that began at the World Cup.
In Qatar, Gio Reyna was disappointed in his role with the U.S. team — he was not selected as a starter for the opening match against Wales — and did not train hard in training sessions leading up to and after the U.S.-Wales game. Reyna had multiple meetings with coaching staff due to these issues and eventually apologized to teammates for a lack of effort. He would go on to play as a substitute against England and against the Netherlands in the knockout stage.
Gregg Berhalter appeared to reference the Gio Reyna situation without naming the player at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York on Dec. 6, comments that were published in a Charter newsletter on Dec. 11. Later that day, after the comments went viral, Charter updated its newsletter with an editor’s note stating that Berhalter’s comments, “were at a gathering held under the Chatham House Rule and were not meant to be public, but were erroneously greenlit for publication by someone representing the event organizers.”
The Athletic reported that the player involved in the situation described by Berhalter was Gio Reynaand Reyna and his agent released multiple statements in the hours and days that followed. First, Reyna’s agent released a statement to The Athletic saying, “Gio obviously did not have the experience anyone hoped for at the World Cup. The situation, relationships and interactions among parties are far more complicated than what has been reported. It is disappointing and disrespectful for certain parties to be commenting on private team matters publicly, especially when some do so without full knowledge of the facts and others do so in a self-serving manner. At this point, our view is that nothing more is gained by those associated with the national team turning on each other, and we plan no further comment on this matter.”
Reyna pretends posted on his Instagramacknowledging that he, “let my emotions get the best of me and affect my training and behavior.”
The post continued, in part: “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.”
That World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Gio Reyna apologized to U.S. teammates over his lack of effort, sources say
(Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images)