Gio Reyna is flourishing in his first senior season at Borussia Dortmund. But just how good can the USMNT prospect be and does the pressure help?
Giovanni Reyna is the hottest American name in the sport right now. And for good reason. His father is one of the greatest-ever U.S. Men’s National Team players and is heavily involved in U.S. Soccer, including executive roles at New York City FC and Austin FC. He flourished in the NYCFC academy, playing for their first-ever team at just 12 years of age. And he is now plying his trade at Borussia Dortmund, following in the footsteps of the greatest American player, Christian Pulisic.
Reyna’s story is a remarkable one. From the tragic death of his older brother, Jack, to the expectation placed on him because of his who is father is, he has had to deal with adult problems throughout his childhood.
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His development was recounted in this excellent piece by The Athletic. Including interviews with both Reynas and several of the coaches and individuals to have played a crucial role in Reyna’s development, it charts his meteoric rise from NYCFC prospect to being a part of the Dortmund first team, culminating in what could be a historic goal and assist in early 2020.
And in speaking to those who coached and scouted him, there is a certain degree of excitement over just how good Reyna can be.
“He has the ability to play as a 9.5 or a 10, on the wings, and in the half-spaces,” Borussia Dortmund chief scout Markus Pilawa said. “He can dribble, he can carry the ball, he can play with many contacts and he can be direct. We knew that Lucien Favre (the Dortmund coach) would love a player like him, and we had a very good idea of how quickly he’d be able to feature for the seniors, even if you allowed for vagaries such as his physical development and the adaptation process.”
The note that Favre would love him is an important one, as the following extract from the piece highlights:
“Favre liked what he saw. Lars Ricken, Dortmund’s academy manager, had joked that the under-19s would never get Reyna back once their first-team manager had seen the player up close. He was right. After impressive showings during the club’s winter training camp in Marbella, Spain, this January, Reyna was firmly ensconced with the seniors.”
Favre will largely dictate Reyna’s immediate progression. He will decide if and when he plays, where he plays, what position he plays in, and will shape his development hugely. If Reyna can earn his stripes, however, the sky really is the limit, just as was — and still is — the case with Pulisic.
There is another element to this story. Pressure is not helpful. Reyna will not turn 18 until November. While that is extremely encouraging for his future — that he is performing at such a high level already shows just how talented he is — it is also extremely early. How many great 17-year-olds have flamed out and never delivered on their potential? Excitement may abound, but Reyna is far from a guaranteed star.
Nevertheless, the Dortmund prospect has impressed everyone he has played under thus far, is at the perfect club to develop his skills, and is the way to stardom. And USMNT fans just get to sit back and enjoy the ride.