Giovanni Reyna celebrates with Erling Haaland - February 18, 2020
REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

Herculez Gomez: Giovanni Reyna should be a US men's national team starter

If you're good enough, you're old enough.

At least the perspective soccer analyst Herculez Gomez took when asked on an ESPN FC roundtable about Borussia Dortmund attacker Giovanni Reyna breaking into the US men’s national team picture. 

Gomez even went as far as to claim that Reyna, a New York City FC academy product, should be in head coach Gregg Berhalter’s starting XI, especially after D.C. United attacker Paul Arriola’s ACL injury opens a spot.

“I think most fans would be salivating at the thought of getting him, Tyler Adams, of getting Christian Pulisic, getting Weston McKennie all on the field together,” Gomez said. “This is a playmaker – he keeps growing in confidence every time he touches the ball with Borussia Dortmund. Could you imagine if he put on that US men’s national team shirt, how confident he could be, how his game could be taken to that next level? 

“Gregg Berhalter doesn’t have the luxury of turning players like this away. Times have changed. Yes, it is easier to get a US men’s national team call-up, but nobody who’s ever played in one of the best teams in the world like Borussia Dortmund, playing in Champions League, has ever been turned away. Today will not be the exception.”

Having all those young stars healthy at the same time is another conversation, but Reyna’s rise at Dortmund has nonetheless turned plenty of heads in American soccer circles. 

Reyna, 17, has made eight first-team appearances for the Bundesliga club this season, with the latest a 22-minute substitute stint last Tuesday against Paris Saint-Germain in a Champions League Round of 16 first-leg match. He assisted Erling Haaland’s second goal to seal the 2-1 win, and also scored a memorable curling finish to the far post on Feb. 4 in a DFB-Pokal loss against Werder Bremen. 

The confidence Dortmund manager Lucien Favre has shown in Reyna left soccer analyst Alejandro Moreno similarly upbeat in the same ESPN FC roundtable. 

“ … If Gio Reyna is good enough to be an option to come off the bench in Champions League in a knockout round when you need a goal at home, then let me tell you something, he’s good enough to play and at least be in the picture of the national team as we speak,” Moreno said. “The kid has proven he can play at a high level. The United States needs a lot of those players out on the field.”

As buzz around Reyna’s potential inclusion has swelled, Reyna offered a “no comment” to reports that Argentina is also interested in his services. While Reyna has options, he captained the US U-17 men’s national team at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup last fall. His father is also Austin FC sporting director Claudio Reyna, who's largely considered one of the best-ever USMNT players.

At current rate, Reyna could factor into the USMNT’s pair of March friendlies in Europe, with the Netherlands (March 26) and Wales (March 30) both on the calendar. 

“You have to get Gio Reyna minutes, you have to get him time,” Gomez said. “He’s already going to be part of the pool. I don’t think that’s the question."