Gio Reyna’s positional role for the USMNT, and why Berhalter can see him more as a winger

Gio Reyna’s positional role for the USMNT, and why Berhalter can see him more as a winger

Gio Reyna’s long-awaited U.S. Men’s National Team debut is looming, and his first official call-up came on Tuesday, along with questions about just where he might line up when he takes the field for the first time.

Reyna has featured both as a central playmaker in Borussia Dortmund’s midfielder, but also as a winger, which is where he has been deployed more recently upon the return to action of Marco Reus. His exploits in the middle of the field had him looking like a viable candidate for one of the attacking midfield roles in Gregg Berhalter’s preferred 4-3-3 formation, but the USMNT coach sees the teenager potentially being better suited out wide.

He’s playing both recently. You’re pushing the central position, right, a little bit on me, but he’s also played wide, and recently played wide,” Berhalter said. “Again, for me, it’s the same. It’s how do they get him in position to affect the game? That’s what’s most important.

They’ve defended in the 5-3-2, they’ve defended in a 5-4-1, where he’s played wide. He moves all over the fields, and for us it’s about the same thing,” Berhalter said. “It’s putting him in a position to affect the game. We generally play in a 4-3-3. We’ve seen that, we’ve talked about wanting to defend now with three midfielders, so I guess you could say he would probably play on the wing for us.

“But, again, we want to put him in position, and put Christian (Pulisic) in a position to affect the game, and have output.”

Reyna isn’t your traditional speedy winger, but his effectiveness at taking on defenders on the flank has been clear to see in recent Dortmund matches, and was seen during his time with the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team. Berhalter has long seen Reyna as someone who could be more effective in a wide role, having told SBI in May of 2019 that he could see Reyna more as a wing player.

Reyna’s versatility makes him capable of handling playmaking duties in the middle of the field, but the defensive demands of the dual-10 roles in Berhalter’s system could make a wide role more of a fit for Reyna, who has show an ability to operate effectively as a winger on either side of the field.

Reyna’s ability to combine could also make him effective partnered with Pulisic, who plays predominantly as a winger for Chelsea, but who has shown the vision and work rate to operate centrally for the USMNT. The potential for the current and former Borussia Dortmund standouts to combine in the USMNT attack should have Berhalter and U.S. fans excited about the possibilities, no matter where Reyna lines up.