His first US men’s national team cap still awaits, but Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna is already imagining the on-field scenarios as a young, impressive generation develops overseas.
Reyna, a 17-year-old product of NYCFC’s academy system, seems primed for a big role under head coach Gregg Berhalter as his second Bundesliga season nears. Looking elsewhere around Europe, there’s Tyler Adams at recent UEFA Champions League semifinalists RB Leipzig, Weston McKennie securing a move to Italian powerhouse Juventus and Christian Pulisic getting handed the No. 10 shirt at Premier League side Chelsea.
“Weston and Tyler, hopefully, maybe if I play as a 10 or get a chance at the 10 and they can play underneath me, it’d be perfect for me and some of the attackers,” Reyna said on the latest Fútbol with Grant Wahl podcast. “They’re both defensive beasts and can clean everything up behind me where I don’t have to worry about what’s behind me. Of course I need to defend and take responsibility, but they give me a sense of security and just that they’re there whenever I need them to clean things up. I think they will know, too, that’s their role.”
NEW: 🇺🇸 Gio Reyna, 17, with 30 good minutes on the season ahead at Dortmund, his friendship with Haaland & Sancho, his visions for the USMNT, the Manc accent he had as a child in England (!) & much more.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 10, 2020
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There’s also forward Josh Sargent at Werder Bremen and winger Timothy Weah at Ligue 1’s Lille, both of whom have plenty to prove in 2020-21 after dealing with a Bundesliga relegation battle and hamstring injuries, respectively, last year. Reyna even highlighted Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, who’s still arguably the USMNT’s top No. 9 as experience balances a youthful new crop of players.
Looking around Europe’s top leagues, Reyna can’t help but get excited at the overall direction.
“I just think in terms of Christian, I remember the last two U-17 World Cups ago I was watching him and that’s kind of when I first recognized him,” Reyna said. “And then slowly he broke out at Dortmund and then of course he’s at Chelsea now and he’s obviously a world-class player already.
“Juventus just signed Weston, and I just think you don’t have to explain anything else. If Juventus wants you, it’s obviously because you’re a top player and a top talent. That’s obviously a huge move for him, and I think Tyler Adams also, he scored a goal in the Champions League quarterfinal. I mean I guess that’s all you really have to say, but it’s not only those guys. I think Josh Sargent has shown what he can do. It was a tough situation for him in Bremen, but I think if he gets in the right system, I think he can be really, really good too. Timothy Weah and other young guys who are coming through. Yeah, it’s definitely an exciting generation.”
There’s the elephant in the room, though, as the USMNT looks to firmly place their 2018 World Cup qualifying failure in the rearview mirror. FIFA and Concacaf recently moved qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar until at least March 2021, mindful of challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whenever the debut or high-pressure games arrive, Reyna will be confident.
“Obviously I wasn’t there in the last cycle, but I think that still is in the back of a lot of people’s minds that we have to qualify because we didn’t last time,” Reyna said. “We have to prove something again. But, like I said, with this group I know we’re more than capable of qualifying and I’m sure we’re going to qualify this time.”
For more from Reyna on his career, Dortmund move and other topics, check out the full podcast episode here.