USA ‘believes in Gio Reyna’ as he ‘showed flashes of being our biggest attacking threat,’ says coach
A victory over El Salvador in Orlando on Monday night guaranteed a spot in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals for the United States in what is sure to be a busy summer.
The USMNT will be looking forward to their trip to Las Vegas after the 1-0 win thanks to a strike from Ricardo Pepi early on in the second half.
These last two matches – including a 7-1 thrashing of Grenada last Friday – saw Borussia Dortmund winger Gio Reyna starting both games after being benched during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
That decision to bench him – made by then-USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter – led to a scandal between the boss and Reyna’s parents Claudio and Danielle that continues to embroil US Soccer to this day.
But after the match, interim manager Anthony Hudson – who recently claimed he hasn’t thought of taking the full-time role – said that he was pleased with Reyna’s performance – adding that the winger needs more playing time to gel with the rest of the squad.
Gio Reyna started both matches for the USMNT in their CONCACAF Nations League fixtures
These were the first starts for Gio since the scandal that broke out between his parents (R) & former USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter (L) over his lack of playing time at the World Cup
‘Gio’s performance overall, I thought was really good. We didn’t have the best of first halves, but I thought he showed flashes of being our biggest attacking threat.
‘And then second half, the same. … These CONCACAF games where you’re playing in the opposition’s half and there’s not a lot of space between the back line and the midfield line, it can make it difficult.
‘But we believe in him, like clearly he has talent and you see tonight some of the things he does.
‘He probably needs a few more games under his belt. Tyler Adams not being here affects that. He’s someone who would have been perfect in there.
‘But listen, we’re pleased with him. We’re pleased what he’s done. We’re very, very pleased with how he’s been this week in training. And, you know, I think we’re all just in a position where we just want to keep looking forward.’
Interim USMNT coach Anthony Hudson said Reyna’s performance ‘was really good overall’
Hudson said the Dortmund winger had ‘showed flashes of being our biggest attacking threat’
Meanwhile, Hudson also heaped praise upon Pepi – the striker who scored the game-winning goal that sealed the USMNT’s trip to the Nations League semifinals.
Pepi’s been struggling to find form while at Dutch side Groningen as his team sit 17 out of 18 in the Eredivisie standings on 17 points.
But his score tonight saw him reach six goals in total for his national team career at the age of 20 years and 77 days. Only Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore can claim they scored that same amount at a younger age.
Hudson praised Pepi for his ability to put his struggles behind him to produce for the team tonight.
‘Really pleased with him, for him,’ Hudson said. ‘His club team [is] unfortunately, not not in a great place in the table. And sometimes it can be tough when you’re down there and you’re sort of at that end of the table.
‘I think when you come out of that environment, you come back to your national team environment, it sort of gives you a little bit of a break.
‘Which I think that in itself helped him. … We as a staff, we really value him. We love him as a person, as a character, we believe in him. … He’s had a good week. I’m just really pleased that he’s come in and he’s taken his chances.
‘And to be fair, in both games he could have had quite a few more goals. He’s had a lot of chances.’
Hudson also praised striker Ricardo Pepi for returning to his goalscoring form with the USMNT
Hudson later added, ‘there was a bunch of players that we went, as a staff, we went out and watched them play live. Rico is one of them. And we watched him a couple of times live. There was a sort of a tier of players like Rico that we really watched a lot.
‘We had a lot of heavy discussions. … One thing we’re noticing in his games is that this guy just doesn’t stop working, doesn’t stop running behind the line. He shows an incredible attitude.
‘And again, I think I’ve said this before about players overseas: It’s not easy. He’s had his adversity whilst he’s been over there. But when you watch him play over there, his attitude’s first class.
‘We know Rico really, really well… we sort of welcomed them with open arms and he’s done a really, really good job.’
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