Gio Reyna made his first start for Borussia Dortmund on Saturday and provided his first assist. The USMNT might just be the special ‘American Dream’.
It is easy to overhype young players. They do not have to do much to attract national attention, especially in the football-starved landscape of the U.S. Men’s National Team. But sometimes, they merit it. Tyler Adams merited it with the New York Red Bulls. Christian Pulisic did with Borussia Dortmund. And now there is another young starlet to add to the mix.
Gio Reyna is making waves at Pulisic’s former club. Moving from the New York City FC academy last year, he was first accelerated into the first-team squad, skipping over the under-23s, and has since been heralded as yet another brilliant young talent at a club renowned for its superstar development.
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The American moved to Dortmund because of the progression of other young players. Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland are both regular starters while only teenagers. Pulisic developed greatly at Dortmund, as did Robert Lewandowksi, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Ousmane Dembele and a whole host of other world-class players. Reyna hoped for the same Dortmund bump. And thus far, he is receiving it.
This weekend, Reyna made his first Bundesliga start for Dortmund. With Bayern Munich having already wrapped up the title, Lucien Favre took the opportunity to rotate through his squad a little, handing minutes to promising young players like Reyna. And Reyna did not waste his chance.
Playing in a free-roaming attacking midfield position, he produced a sumptuous assist for Haaland’s opening goal. Arriving on the edge of the penalty area and a square pass was fired along the edge of the box, instead of shoot first-time as many expected, Reyna opened up his body and deftly used the instep of his left foot to slide a pass through to Haaland who was stood wider to his left. The Norwegian made no mistake with his finish.
After the match, Haaland was effusive in his praise of Reyna:
“I call him the American Dream. That’s true. He is 17 years old and what he’s doing on the pitch today is amazing. He has a huge future in front of him.”
The American Dream is a terrific nickname for Reyna. He has worked hard to get where he is. He took the risk to move abroad, to challenge himself at the highest level, and to hopefully grow into an elite player. And there is a growing sense that he might just be as special as Haaland — and many others at Dortmund and around the footballing world — believe him to be.
The USMNT, too, have a young and improving team. Gregg Berhalter rebooted his project when he arrived at the start of 2019. Reyna is yet to play for the senior team, but it seems like a matter of time before he does. And when he does, he might take up a key role in Berhalter’s side alongside Pulisic, Adams and the other young, burgeoning stars.
Reyna, then, continues to rise. His stock is up, his talent is undeniable, and the trajectory of his career is immense. As Haaland says, he might just be the special American Dream.